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God's Role in Biblical Events:
A Historiographical View of the Bible as a Model for a Modern Understanding of God's Role in History

Moshe Abelesz

In this paper, the author examines two specific Biblical episodes in which the narrator views God's intervention as the critical and deciding factor in the outcome of events, suggesting alternative reasons for the outcome. He also shows how the ancients designated God as the sole determiner of history and events, and shows how the Bible's view of historiographical events can be used as an educational model for an understanding of God's role in history.

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“Of Fainting Maidens and Wells”
Bible Study in the Yeshiva Curriculum

Ya'akov Beasley

This paper deals with the traditional neglect of Bible study within yeshivot, examining three areas relevant to the discussion: the halachic sources, a historical overview of yeshivot throughout the ages, and contemporary issues that have arisen due to the relative increase in Bible study in our generation. The author discovers that the discussions and debates that arose regarding the inclusion of Bible study in the yeshiva curriculum revolved around the larger issue of what purpose yeshivot fulfilled in Jewish society.

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Gender Differences and their Implications for the Education of Women

Mali Brofsky

This paper, which examines how we can best educate young women, is based on new research regarding the development of women and research examining the state of girls’ education today. Research has proven that boys receive more teacher attention, call out more than girls, draw attention to themselves more than girls, are given more time to respond to questions, dominate the use of classroom materials and space (such as playgrounds), and receive a higher quality of teacher response (boys receive more praise, criticism and corrective advice, girls receive more noncommittal responses).

Ideally, the aim of the classroom environment is both to increase the knowledge of the participants, as well as to create an environment which is not adversarial, but rather in which bonds of connection and mutual insight are forged. The students grow not only in acquisition of information, but rather, through this process of mutual understanding, they acquire perspectives that enrich their entire psyche. Tanakh appears to be the ideal subject matter for a classroom of this sort. As a work that can be analyzed as a piece of literature, it opens itself up to various interpretations and readings that differ with the differing perceptions of the reader. It is laden with ethical implications whose precise nuances are open to different viewpoints.

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Teaching Non-Traditional Texts in a Traditional Setting

Toby Rotenstein Einhorn

For centuries, the texts that have been studied at yeshivas have been traditional ones; texts that have been sanctified by the Mesorah. This paper examines the propriety of the use of other texts, which that have not been traditionally taught at yeshivot. These include texts such as the myths of the Ancient Near East, the Apocrypha, Karaitic interpretations to the Torah, and the work of the Biblical Critics. While concluding that “non-traditional texts” could be taught in a traditional setting, the author suggest that one should use them with extreme caution.

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Informal Jewish Education: The Training of the Educators

Jonathan Goldstein

This paper discusses the issues associated with education of the informal Jewish educators. The structure of the paper is as follows:

  • Listing of different forms of Informal Jewish Education, and a description of the core characteristics of such organizations; introduction of a new term: Semiformal Jewish Education
  • Description of the current state of training informal Jewish educators, and how they are currently educated.
  • Analysis of some difficulties associated with the existing situation of informal Jewish educators training
  • Discussion regarding whether these problems are intrinsic to the nature of Informal Jewish Education, or whether they are solvable
  • Suggestion of possible methods of improving the quality of training of informal Jewish educators
  • Comments as to which increased areas of philanthropy may be helpful to improve the training of informal Jewish educators
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Eight Biblical Interactive Learning Centers

Semadar (Ben-Zvi) Goldstein

In an age where microwaves prepare dinner in minutes, videos provide instant entertainment, and computers offer a gamut of recreational activities, classroom lectures and discussions are less appealing to the technologically advanced student of the nineties. A scintillating balance between entertainment and the classroom has been provided by Howard Gardner, an educational psychologist from Harvard University. Gardner explains in Frames of Mind, The Theory of Multiple Intelligences that learning can and should be more entertaining for students. After reviewing his literature, the author proposes that Gardner’s learning centers can be applied to Bible study. The main report describes the eight intelligences in detail, with suggested and implemented Bible-based activities.

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Returning to Tradition in Derekh ha-Limmud:
Careful Analysis of Torah She-Bikhtav as a Prerequisite to Studying Torah She-B'al Peh

Ami Hordes

At a time when, thankfully, so many people are learning Torah and Jewish bookstore shelves continuously display newly published sefarim, the serious study of Tanakh often is neglected – both in how it is learned or whether it is even learned at all. This is true, for example, in many yeshiva high school classrooms, where too often, Tanakh students will be sent to the mefarshim before “critically examining” a text themselves, and then will be asked a question like, “What was bothering Rashi here?” A related phenomenon occurs in many yeshivot, where the start of a new Masechet of Gemara is rarely preceded by analyzing the relevant passages of Tanakh. This approach is backwards. Instead of jumping straight to the Gemara or running to Rashi after a cursory reading of the text, students should be encouraged to read the text carefully themselves, so they can uncover difficulties in the text – and maybe even the same question that was bothering Rashi – before reading a commentary on that text.

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The Place of Biblical Criticism in a Jewish Education

Layaliza Klein

In this paper the author advances the thesis that the problems and methods with which biblical criticism deals should be neither formally incorporated nor overlooked or excluded from the years of a formal Jewish education. The author’s parameters for incorporating biblical criticism call for laying a groundwork that will enable students to confront biblical criticism where it is raised by their own minds or by others, where the issue is reactive or proactive.

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Textual Study as a Means of Religious Instruction

Michael Olshin

Textual study of the Bible has been largely ignored in the Yeshiva high school and post-high school Yeshiva curriculum. By textual study the author means, searching for p’shuto shel mikra through reading the text itself while paying close attention to the use of language, syntax, style, and structure. It also includes being mindful of recurring themes, imagery and ideas. It is the goal of this paper to present an approach to Tanakh as a means of religious instruction through textual study, which intends to breathe new life to the study of the texts by focusing on the deep moral messages that can be understood by the contemporary reader. It will also attempt to alleviate some of the concerns of the religious Bible instructor mentioned above.

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New Ways of Looking at the Old

Ian Pear

An old adage declares that "youth is wasted on the young." In proffering such a statement, our declarant—no doubt a member of the 'older generation'—implies that youth, with all its vigor and fortitude, would be better allocated to those with the ability to appreciate it and maximize its benefit. "If only the elderly," one hears him bemoan, "were given the potency of youth to implement their wisdom and experience." The goal of this paper, at least in a general sense, is to refute the notion expressed above. The research makes use of three distinct forms of research: 1) Prescriptive analyses based on the study of Torah texts relating to elderhood and the aging process, 2) Descriptive explanations of senior citizen behavior emanating from psychological perspectives on aging, and 3) Empirical data, such as surveys of professional educators and interviews with senior citizens, analyzing older adult education.

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Teaching Biblical Personalities in Religious Middle Schools

Dorona (Abramson) Reingold

This Hebrew paper examines how accepted teaching methods among Bible teachers often causes a dissonance between the written biblical text and the world of Midrash. This approach often limits the student’s ability to grapple directly and creatively with the text in a meaningful manner. This problem is particularly troubling in relation to the treatment of the biblical characters. The author suggests approaches which enable the student to read the biblical text in a more active, focusing on the character of Esther by way of example. You will need Hebrew-enabled Word to download this paper.

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Encounters Between Torah Min HaShamayim and Biblical Criticism

Ilana Goldstein Saks

Among the most difficult challenges confronting the religious Jew today is the contradiction between the belief in Torah min haShamayim (divine origin of the biblical text) and the claims of modern Bible criticism. Although this conflict is usually felt most acutely by those who choose to study Bible in an academic setting, even those who do not are not necessarily immune to questions and doubts. The author searches out different ways which religiously concerned scholars and educators have dealt with these issues in the past. She attempts to examine the thoughts and ideas specifically of those people who are knowledgeable in the area of biblical criticism as well as sensitive, and personally attached, to the religious issues at stake.

The four approaches presented in this paper, are the suggestions of four individuals: Rabbi David Tzvi Hoffmann, Rabbi Mordechai Breuer, Rabbi David Weiss-Halivni and Dr. Tamar Ross. Each approach is a reflection both of how these individuals see the reality of the Torah as well as their way of incorporating that reality into a Jewish-religious outlook. Obviously their approaches do not represent every possible way of dealing with the religious questions that arise from biblical criticism they do deal with the issues from a variety of points of view.

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Teaching Midrash from a Developmental Perspective

Tamar Schwell

In the classical way of teaching Tanakh and Midrash in the Modern Orthodox day school it is, unfortunately, quite common for the student to either take the words of the Midrash literally, as they appear at face value, or to come to deride the words of Chazal because the student does not realize that they are meant to be understood on a deeper level than they appear. As a young child, the student is taught many midrashim as "Bible stories" and is never given a basis upon which to distinguish between those events that are actually written in Tanakh and those that have their source in midrashei Hazal.

This project is the presentation of a program designed for a new, more sophisticated method of teaching Tanakh and Midrash so that the standard Orthodox Day School student will develop a full appreciation for Midrashei Chazal. The proposal described in this paper is a plan for a developmental integration of a mature approach to Midrash study into the curriculum.

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Academic Bible in the Yeshiva Classroom: An Argument for Integration
Including a Case Study of Genesis 37-40

Aliza Segal

The purpose of the paper is to explore the desirability and feasibility of importing material from the world of Bible as an academic discipline into a religious, non-university classroom setting. The question is not whether every Tanakh teacher in a yeshiva requires a background in the academic study of the discipline, but whether, and how, those who possess such a background can and should bring it directly to bear on their classrooms. For the purposes of this discussion, the yeshiva is a post-high school institution in which students with reasonable textual skills and good knowledge of traditional sources study for a period of a year or more.

The paper is in essence an argument for the synthesis of the two approaches, the traditional and the academic, with the test of true applicability, of relevance, being whether the material in question truly enhances the student’s understanding of the biblical text. However, in order to achieve a conscious, informed synthesis, the component parts must be separated and examined. It is this evaluation which lies at the core of this project.

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Approaching the Avot

Emily Shapiro

Wondering how her students are meant to approach and perceive the actions and personalities of the biblical heros, the author undertakes to examine the issue, and conducted an empirical study, examining attitudinal differences among seminary students.

In focusing on the biblical figure and his/her confrontations, we are allowing the student to grapple with several critical philosophical and theological issues that may trouble him/her. Finally, a complete analysis of the lives of the avot, can provide meaningful explanations for the patterns which exist in their individual lives and which are also reflected in our national existence and consciousness.

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An Integrated Curriculum for Teaching the Hurban in the Bible

Yael Ziegler

In this project, the author endeavors to provide a model curriculum which integrates the teaching of several interrelated books in the Bible. When approaching a biblical book, the only way to attain a comprehensive picture of the chosen subject is to peruse the other books that are directly connected to its subject matter or its historical time period. For example, it is impossible to understand the book of Ruth without examining the book of Judges, and vice versa. Likewise, in order to fully comprehend Isaiah's prophecies, one cannot ignore Micah, Hosea or the book of Kings.

The author presents an integrated curriculum on the books of Kings, Jeremiah, Zephaniah and Lamentations. All of these books scrutinize the time period of the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in 586 BCE. In order to properly comprehend the Bible's message regarding these pivotal events, it is imperative to study all of these books. This project attempts to organize a curriculum which highlights the unique perspective of each book on the same events, while, at the same time, integrating the information in order to attain a comprehensive picture of the biblical presentation of this time period.

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