Since I tend to write these blog posts in the evening (or very late at night), I’ve fallen behind by a day. Tonight I’m catching up by combining these two topics that in my mind, are inextricably bound together.
I spend just about every day of my life thinking about learning. I know, that sounds funny. Why am I not learning instead of just THINKING about learning? I think about learning all the time because as Director of Lifelong Jewish Learning for Temple Beth-El in San Antonio, I’m responsible for creating Jewish learning opportunities for our members of all ages. So I’m constantly thinking about how people of different ages learn differently, how to make learning experiences engaging for the participants, what subject matter is most compelling, how to reach our teens, what are current best practices in education and how we can apply them in our setting, what are current trends, successes and challenges in education in general and in Jewish education in particular, what are the newest theories of language acquisition and teaching Hebrew reading, and so on.
Each time I learn something new, it changes the way I think about education and learning. I feel this as a learner myself as well. When I learn a new insight or commentary or melody, it changes the way I engage with the text or prayer. When I learn a new game or story, it changes the way I interact with others by bringing a new layer to the relationship.
The truth is, we are all lifelong learners because every new experience we have teaches us something about ourselves, others and the world around us. And we are constantly changing and evolving as a result.
As we cross the halfway point of our Elul preparation, I wonder what new insights I will gain during these High Holy Days and how I will change as a result.
The Jewish month of Elul leading up to the High Holy Days provides an opportunity for spiritual preparation. It is a time for cheshbon ha-nefesh – looking inward and reflecting on the past year. The daily sounding of the shofar calls us to examine our words and our actions, and the words of Selichot (prayers of forgiveness) inspire us to seek forgiveness and to forgive others. We look ahead to the new year when we can begin anew, striving to be the best version of ourselves. Each day, I plan to blog on a thought related to this period preparation for the Days of Awe, along with many others in the Jewish blogosphere. For further inspiration, search #blogElul on Twitter or Facebook.
I invite you to add your own thoughts on the daily topic. Feel free to add your comments below or write your own blog, following the daily topics indicated or any others that call out to you.