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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Summer Camp Alternative: How About Learning Other Fundamentals?

No wonder camps have a virtual monopoly on summer! Over at imamother, a mother who is not sending her 8 and 10 year old boys to summer camp is wondering what she can do in terms of learning because her boys are learning mishnayot/gemara in school and she isn't schooled in such subject manner and thus isn't sure what to do (hire a tutor? Send to camp half day?).

It is possible that my own children's Jewish education is severely lacking and that they are so severely behind schedule in terms of Torah learning that this post should be completely disregarded and relegated to the virtual trash bin.

However, if this is not the case and you agree that 8 and 10 years olds should be spending less time (perhaps no time) with their head in a gemara, and more time absorbing some of the fundamentals of Jewish life, mostly through Tanach, then the answer as to what to do is not only a simple answer, but the presentation of a great opportunity to teach (good old fashion) Torah.

Summer is a great time to expand your children's Torah knowledge through a presentation of various subject matter they may never cover in school. Perhaps you can tackle some of the megillot. Perhaps you can learn some of the great books or stories in Nach. Perhaps you can expand upon already learned parshiyot or areas of Torah. Perhaps you can examine some of the tefillah and how it relates to the fundamentals of Torah. If you are insistent on learning an area of Torah that you don't feel competent in, go ahead and grab a sefer with translations and English commentary.

Just because an 8 or 10 year old is learning mishnayot doesn't mean you have nothing to offer said child. In fact, I'd bet that you have plenty to offer the child that is not being offered in school and you put your own stamp on their learning in the meantime.

50 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is wonderful advice to someone who is willing to be an iconoclast. The people who should be taking this advice wouldn't listen to it, and the people who agree with it are already doing it.

JS said...

How about just having some fun over the summer? Why must we always learn and learn and learn? How about some swimming or soccer or basketball or just riding a bike or taking a walk or going on a hike or a trip to the zoo or just hanging out with friends.

All these children and none of them have a childhood. What are their childhood memories going to be? Learning a certain sefer? Geez.

none said...

True, a mother does have a lot to teach her son, but learning Torah these days is not all about learning torah. Learning gemara and mishnayos is a skill. If it is not practiced then the boys will be at a disadvantage at the start of the next school year.

anon426 said...

I don't think you could convince me that an hour of learning/day infringes on the summer leisure time of 8 to 10 year olds in any significant way.

Avi Greengart said...

I'm with imamother on this: if the kids are learning mishnayot and gemara during the school year, continuing that over the summer will help them keep their skills sharp. But I'm also with you - all she really needs to do is hire a tutor a few times a week. The rest of the learning time would be well spent with Tanach, halacha (including practical halacha like baking and preparing for Shabbos), tefilla, etc.

Anonymous said...

I suggest learning to swim at the JCC or a day school with a pool. The Torah advocates teaching your child to swim. It is a lifelong happiness pill in liquid form, and a potential lifesaver. Enroll your child in a swimming class and he/she will learn skills that will last a lifetime.

Anonymous said...

The decision about how much mishna & gemara 8 and 10 year old boys should be getting over the summer depends on what type of high school you plan to send them to. If you are looking at a right-wing, mesivta type education, you need them to keep up. If you are looking at a community high school, it's not crucial. In this case, a lot depends on where you live and what the educational norms are for your community.

Miami Al said...

I hope that the mother is equally concerned with the children keeping up their mathematics and English language skills over the summer...

JS said...

Gotta say, I find it ironic that a post like this follows the haranguing of Yitta's article on shidduchim. The entire thrust of the question is how can a mother ensure her children do the right KIND of learning to make sure they go to the right mesivta so that they can be a "top" boy who gets hundreds of shidduch resumes sent his way (or rather, his mother's way so she can find a pretty enough girl for him).

Seriously, these are young kids, around 2nd and 4th grade. Already there is manifest a concern that they're not going to be "good enough" - "good enough" of course does NOT mean tanach or any of the "unimportant" subjects. It means gemara and mishna. That's how a bochur is evaluated and his worth determined.

I don't see how you can't see how this post is exactly what leads to what everyone was complaining about in the previous one. This isn't about learning. It's about the right kind of learning. It's about conforming and doing what everyone else is doing so that your kids' shidduch prospects aren't ruined.

The whole subject is absurd. Concern over young kids, heaven forfend, taking 10 or so weeks away from learning. This isn't about learning skills or concern they'll go off the derech. This is all about conformity and making sure your kids aren't "odd" or "off". This is about fear of doing something different - not sending to camps like everyone else.

And then you wonder where Yitta gets off suggesting plastic surgery for girls. It's the exact same issue and you don't even realize it.

Learning mishna/gemara is the cosmetic surgery for boys.

Nephew of Frum Actuary said...

"Learning mishna/gemara is the cosmetic surgery for boys."

This. It is whet the schools teach, and has been true forever. In the Shtetel, the boy was valued (and got dowery) on the number of Blatt he knew by heart.

Why should anything change?

AztecQueen2000 said...

What happened to "mishnayos at ten, Gemara at fifteen?" It was a good enough guideline for Pirkei Avos?

Anonymous said...

What about the Jewish value of Tukun Olam? Volunteering together at a soup kitchen or making art projects to be donated to kids in foster care or in the hospital or volunteering in a senor citizen's home if regulations allow? That, in addition to some reading and math, Tanach, some sports or swimming lessons, and backyard games would make for full summer days. BTW, some towns offer free group swimming lessons and tennis lessons.

tesyaa said...

Interesting quote from Rabbi Fink's post TODAY reviewing the New American Haggadah:

http://finkorswim.com/2012/03/27/the-new-american-haggadah-book-review/#comments

Personally, I think orthodox Jews should not recoil at the mere mention of Tikkun Olam, but many do.

Miami Al said...

Nephew,

"This. It is whet the schools teach, and has been true forever. In the Shtetel, the boy was valued (and got dowery) on the number of Blatt he knew by heart."

That's a falsehood.

The notion of teaching Gemara to every 10 year old is less than 80 years old, and contradicts the Gemara.

The Yeshivot of Europe were larger than the Kollelim, because many of the students remained unmarried, because few people wanted their daughter to marry a poor Rabbi.

The economics are clear... when full time learning was poorly valued (pre-War Europe), the Kollels were empty (around 400 at the peak). When full time learning became highly valued (dowry/support), the Kollels filled up, post War America and more recently, Israel.

But let's fantasize that rich beautiful girls seemed out economically poor but exceptional learners/memorizers for hundreds of years...

BTW: Artscoll's Gemara is coming to the iPad this spring/summer, with full search capability and the ability to click on a line and see relevant commentary and references to look fuller... The rest of their library will be coming out digitally over the next year or two.

Being exceptional at Yeshiva-style learning dependent on memorization is about to become as relevant to acquiring Jewish knowledge as manufacturing the buggy whip is relevant to the US transportation industry.

Chavi Beck said...

Thank you Sephardi Lady for a truly original suggestion. I would venture that one or two half-hour sessions weekly with his father (or uncle, or neighbor, or hired tutor if needed) would suffice to keep a young boy's Mishnayos skills up to date, while Mommy's daily Torah class keeps him on the "a Jew learns Torah every day, even on vacation" derech.

Anonymous said...

"Being exceptional at Yeshiva-style learning dependent on memorization is about to become as relevant to acquiring Jewish knowledge as manufacturing the buggy whip is relevant to the US transportation industry."

Not necessarily. Jewish knowledge is not the only reason we learn Torah. If it were, we'd only learn the parts that are relevant today and skip the sacrifices or other laws that only apply where there is a Beit Hamikdash. There's an element of learning for the sake of learning, and there IS a value to cultivating the skills even with the availability of Artscroll apps.

none said...

You know Pirkei avos was written before the gemara. Clearly the tana meant something other then "talmud bavli" by the word gemara.

Also these days gemara is written in it's own language. New languages can be learned more easily at a younger age.

BTW needing artscroll's apps to learn is like needing a cane to walk. It's not fun and you won't get very far.

Shoshana Z. said...

Oy, just let the kids have some fun. It is such a shame that learning stands above and in contradiction to every other pleasant childhood experience. Parents should learn how to connect to their children and enjoy them. Teach them other valuable things about the wider world that would enhance their Jewish feelings and beliefs in Torah. Let them out into nature. Hand them a box of paints. Bring them into the kitchen to make healthy food. Reach out to others in your city and learn how to give.

Camp is simply one more entitlement masquerading as religiosity. And truly, any community worth it's Torah should be able to provide free (!) summer learning programs for kids who need just a small amount of encouragement and practice to keep up their skills.

What ever happened to the notion that Jewish men and women have a G-d given obligation to teach the next generation?

Too bad the mothers aren't worried about the girls and enhancing their learning and love of Yiddishkeit.

Miami Al said...

none,

"BTW needing artscroll's apps to learn is like needing a cane to walk. It's not fun and you won't get very far."

40 years ago, you'd be decrying these young bochurs that have access to books instead of memorizing it in the Yeshiva, and being unwilling to travel to another Yeshiva to have access to a volume yours didn't have.

Comparing access to indexed resources with cross references is being a Luddite, pure and simple.

Rote memorization is a useless skill in the modern world. In the modern world, raw information is available, the ability to synthesize and utilize information is the critical skill, since the deluge of information is everywhere.

At one point, cobbling shoes was a valuable and useful skill. Now we manufacture them quickly and cheaply, and people can own multiple pairs of shoes without problem.

The printing press made the availability of texts possible. Cheaper printing made it affordable (or is it bad that everyone can have a Talmud Bavli in their home)? Digitization makes it even cheaper.

Welcome to the modern world, adapt or die.

Anonymous said...

Of course kids should relax over the summer, but I'm sure you've all heard of the summer "brain drain", where kids (especially low income) lose months of skills over the summer, leading to falling behind during the year, which has a disastrous cumulative effect. just like my kids will be doing some math homework and book reports over the summer, I want them learning some mishnayos too. Granted, they'll get that in camp- we both work, so the kids have to go to day camp.

Name said...

Al- I'm Anon 9:22 PM (picking a name this time). I think you're confusing 2 types of learning. There's learning to know- which is what you're referring to- and learning for the sake of learning, which is a whole different animal and which can't be done with easy Artscroll apps holding your hand. It is a cultivated skill, and the toil is part and parcel of this aspect of the mitzvah of learning. This type of learning, done properly, actually does cultivate critical thinking skills and has nothing to do with rote memorization or cross-references.

Miami Al said...

Name,

No, I'm referring to both. Extra effort spent with bad fonts, walking over to the book shelf to check a reference (or worse, not checking it because it takes too much effort), is simple "toiling" for toilings sake.

Watch the video on the Artscroll app, this isn't simply going to be the Artscroll Talmud on the iPad, at least not over time. As they digitize their archive, you'll be able to click on a commentary and see it in full context. Eventually, you'll be able to buy other (implied in their video), related works, and click on a cross-link to view those other works.

Basically, if you were learning a secular subject, even my snootiest Professor friends acknowledge that you can START with Wikipedia, which gives you an overview, citations at the bottom, and a place to start.

Sorry, but being able to access classical and modern commentaries while you are learning is not "hand holding," it's using modern technology.

However, it's a foolish debate, time will tell, but I predict within 50 years this will be the only way people engage in lernen, book form Talmud will be something young bochurs roll their eyes when Zaidy talks about "in his day."

Avi Greengart said...

Miami Al,

And what about on Shabbos and Yom Tov? Are those days learning-free because we don't have the skills to learn without a high res iPad? And I'm certainly not knocking the high res iPad or Rusty Brick's programming skills - I killed myself to make it to the launch on Taanis Esther, and I'll be first in line to download the Artscroll Shas app. But as long as we treat stored electricity (batteries), LED backlighting (displays), and frequency modulation (WiFi) as somehow violating prohibitions against fire or building, there are built-in limitations to how pervasive modern educational methods can be.

tesyaa said...

Avi,

I don't think we can predict which sectors of Orthodox Judaism will be using certain technologies on Shabbos 50 years from now. See the recent discussions on the Jewish Worker and Hirhurim.

And Shabbos is still 1 day per week. Yeshiva students learning 12 hours a day are not learning 12 hours on Shabbos. It's not that paper books will be completely obsolete - today battery life is limited, if nothing else - but the need for them will be significantly diminished.

People enjoy a visit to the Amish country and a hayride, but a hay wagon is not their primary means of transportation.

lawchick said...

I don't know much about Gemara study, but in terms of US law, Lexis and Westlaw provide everything that Al is talking about the Artscroll apps providing to Gemara learners, and more. And yes, these databases have become the primary resource for legal research.

Still, mental stores of knowledge are very important in terms of knowing the overall lay of the land, where to start looking and how to generate search terms. And books are still helpful because they offer the opportunity to browse more organically. Just my two cents, don't know if relevant.

Miami Al said...

Avi,

Someone for more learned than myself in the laws of Shabbat v'Yom Tov AND electrical engineering will solve the issue of electronic reader for Shabbat. Given the movement from printed form to digital, it's a necessity.

If not, Shabbat learning may simply change. Just like we learn Torah for a few minutes after Maariv in an informal manner, Shabbat learning may simply become Shiurim or actual Torah textual study.

Who knows.

In the distant but recent past, lights were manipulated on Yom Tov (seen as an issue of cooking the filament, not building/fire), similarly to candles/lanterns of the prior era.

Just like the Kosher lamp freaked people out when it came out, but is a staple a few years later... especially funny since before electricity, the idea of a lamp wasn't a foreign concept.

The Jewish people and their relationship to technology has certainly evolved over time. Electricity was disputed, then concerned resolved, but who knows what the future will bring.

The move from classic electricity (sparks and all) to solid state brought the issue up again, the move to microchips may cause a re-evaluation. My Sabbath-mode oven operates via Gramma, perhaps some entrepreneurial Jew will find a way to make an Android-powered Sabbath mode reader that operates only via gramma and has no ability to "write," merely to read.

I love sitting on my couch with a book or magazine to relax, but I see the writing on the wall. While magazine circulation is up, books are moving digitally. The iPad is nifty.

We'll see what happens, but this seems like as giant a leap forward in Talmud Torah as the availability of mass produced Talmud Bavli books.

Mr. Cohen said...

The Mishnah in tractate Avot, chapter 5, in the second-to-last paragraph teaches that Talmud study should start at age 15, after years of studying Tanach and Mishnah.

I do not understand why the contemporary yeshivah world ignores this, and tries to teach Talmud to 8 year old boys.

not so deep thinker said...

wow, so many interesting comments!

1) Learning in the summer applies to math and reading too, but we have a specific chazal that regarding torah learning: "if you leave me for a day I will leave you for two". If a boy does not learn mishnayos or gemorah for 10 weeks during vacation, he will be in big trouble when he gets back to yeshiva.
2) No this is not about becoming a top learner, and marrying a rich girl. This is just about keeping pace in a normal frum school. But yeah, learning Navi, halacha, etc sounds great, as long as they have some gemorah and mishna.
3) Tikkun olam is an ORTHODOX concept hijacked by others. The last time I checked, I mention it three times a day (Hint: Check out Uh-lay-nu in your siddur). I don't 'recoil' when I say it and I try to plan how to do it. Here's one thing every non-jew at work knows about me - the yarmulka wearing guy never uses 4-letter words, EVER. One small step in tikkun olam.
4) last but not least, if you think the ipad gemorah is going to mean that the yeshiva-style learning will become less important, I will bet you are wrong. It can speed up research, but cannot take the place of a real live talmid chochom. Much like WebMD did not replace doctors. etc.

Name said...

Al- I still think we're talking past each other. The hours spent in a Beit Midrash flipping through this book and that is not part of the "toil" of learning, and it's great that the app will effectively replace that. But there is still skill involved in learning. You have to understand how arguments and the like function in a gemarah; you have to know HOW to look for information; you have to understand certain stylistic elements; you need to understand certain functions and applications.
A previous poster brought up Westlaw and Lexisnexis- while they're great for bringing up relevant cases, you still have to know hot to search, and you still have to know how to decide if a case is relevant to your research. Just because you don't have to waste time poring over s stack of books, doesn't mean there aren't still relevant skills needed.

Elitzur said...

Well, we're keeping our kids home for the summer and I will be learning gmara with my oldest daughter to make up for what she lacks in school. Hopefully, that will make her good shidduch material so that she can be supported by her husband :)

aaron from L.A. said...

Why not send them to plastic surgery camp

Dave said...

Here's one thing every non-jew at work knows about me - the yarmulka wearing guy never uses 4-letter words, EVER. One small step in tikkun olam.

Most of America doesn't actually care if you use 4-letter words.

On the other hand, I strongly suspect that racist invective is higher in the Orthodox community than it is in the rest of the Jewish community.

You can take your pick, but I'd consider a trade for the occasional pungent word in replacement for excising racist language to be a much better case of Tikkun Olam.

Miami Al said...

Name,

Agreed. The methodology by which learns Gemara cannot be replaced by an App. The methodology by which one consults texts can be replaced by an App.

Calling the ability to look things up immediately "walking with a cane" is what I consider inflammatory.

There is far more reliance on memorization than is relevant in the methodology for imparting Gemara knowledge than is necessary.

I find the anti-Artscroll issues around translations and interpretations reasonable, but Artscroll has an all Hebrew edition as well.

I find the anti-Artscroll as in "it makes it easy" to be Ludditism, and nothing more.

I do not share Artscroll's Hashkafa, and take issues with how they censor and choose material. That said their typesetting is phenomenal, and the body of work they have put together extraordinary.

mom2 said...

IMHO, the mother should consider learning some Chumash everyday with her kids. The reading, decoding and analysis skills are not that different from the Mishna they will learn next semester. There is no way such little boys are actually learning Gemara at school, no matter what the administration calls their classwork. A child that young has as much chance as understanding the shakla vetayra of the gemara as he has of understanding multivariable calculus. If the mom practices skills the kids actually need and that she is actually comfortable with on a 1on1 basis, it is unlikley they will be behind their classmates who spent the time with a 20:1 ratio with a camp rebbe ( I am writing here because I see the original post linked to orthonomics for ideas ).

The Artscroll App is terrific and all but the concept is hardly new , so probably wont revolutionize much. The Bar Ilan CDRom with its Hebrew and English Talmud -Soncino Edition- has been around forever, well, 1990 something . you click on the word in the sugya and the attached Rashi comes up, , click on the Rashi and the cross referenced Rabeinu Tam comes up, Click on the heading of the Rishon, and his biography comes up. Its all in Mirriam or David font, not the distinctly easier-on the-eyes-haddasa font that artscroll utilizes, and I guess it looks really dated now but it does most of the reference work for you. I think if you check it out online at http://www.responsa.co.il/home. you can browse around the online version for free as a guest before having to register.

It doesn’t change much. The reference work is not where the heavy lifting of Talmud Torah lies. It lies in the analysis , focus , concentration and myriad other cognitive functions needed to fully understand a legal issue and attendant dozen or so interpretations , and a potential spouse possessing those qualities has been prized for millennia before the era of the shtetel, as was the daughter of such a talmid chacham. The Talmud is replete with advice on marrying them both, though I suspect the latter is less prized today for all the reasons delineated in the plastic surgery post.

parenting is hard said...

"Most of America doesn't actually care if you use 4-letter words."
Spoken by someone who uses them...

I beg to differ. The non-jews I work with are pretty careful when I am around not to use them and when they do they appologize. So they 'know' it is not very appropriate.

As far as other derogatory remarks based on race, that is a relic of the 1970s that is heard less and less among polite society, and NEVER at work.

One thing my wife and I noticed, is that with the ghettto mentality we Orthos developed, many jewish kids grow up with only jews on the block, and almost never interact with those of another race. And to be honest, I don;t think that is a particularly wonderful thing. But this is way off topic.

Dave said...

I beg to differ. The non-jews I work with are pretty careful when I am around not to use them and when they do they appologize. So they 'know' it is not very appropriate.

It sounds like they are polite, and are trying not to offend you. That is not the same thing as thinking that the words themselves are wrong or are inappropriate in a business environment.

Avi Greengart said...

Dave,

I agree with Parenting on this one. While most people in the business world are not shocked at all by curse words, they do consider it crass (unless it's Carol Bartz. Then it's refreshingly hysterical). When an Orthodox Jew works without using such language - or discussing sexual gossip or innuendo - it is perceived not only to be holy, but a good character trait to be emulated when possible.

mom2 - looking something up on a CD-ROM on a PC is not the same as holding the text in your lap and tapping on the meforshim. The mechanics of a tablet transform the experience.

parenting is hard said...

Dave - I guess this is one we will have to agree to disagree...though I still think it is probably just you trying not to feel guilty about using 4 letter words.

I hope other Ortho readers weigh in on this one.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Dave.

And it's very unlikely the commenter's coworkers equate the fact he doesn't use "bad" words with his religion, unless he is "in your face" about it.

Face it, most people in the world care very little about Orthodox Jews or Orthodox Judaism.

Dave said...

Well, I've been in the corporate world (albeit the high-tech part of it) for a quarter century or so, and I have yet to see use of profanity be a career limiting factor, or avoidance of it be a career boost, for anyone.

Nephew of Frum Actuary said...

Dave/parenting:

I have a feeling it depends on the profession. Some people by me do use 4 letter words, but they are (from what I see) looked at as uncouth by others. Others use them sparingly, and are embarassed when doing so (say in a whisper). Others don't use them at all.

Miami: I don't disagree with any of your points. The poor learner was still more wanted as a match than the poor nebuch. Learning as a cosmetic is the same as being a doctor as a cosmetic. It is an additional reason to take a boy, just like a good nose is a reason to marry a girl. In addition, you are correct about the Kollels as well. The good boys (such as those who were in demand) got a shtellar, and didn't sit in Kollel.

parenting is hard said...

"and I have yet to see use of profanity be a career limiting factor, or avoidance of it be a career boost"

Well, Dave, at least now I know where your thinking is at. I said nothing about doing it to boost my career. I happen to think cursing is a disgusting habit (chewing gum too, and don't even get me started on smoking) and those who work with me know it without me jumping on a table, screaming at anyone, or making a big deal about it. The fact that is changed behavior around me makes me think it is a good thing.

There is yet another "tikkun" I have tried to do at work - no more lying. I told people the reason I can't lie is that lying usually involves remembering who I said what to and then trying to tie all my lies together, and I am not smart enough to do that. Everyone laughs, but the msg is pretty clear, and in the last couple of years there has been way less lying/backstabbing, etc in my very non-jewish unit.

And for those on this site worried that the non-jews think I am a ortho nut job, everyone also knows that there is nobody who knows as much about the Yankees and Giants than I do. I got over a dozen calls the morning after the Super Bowl "congratulating" me, since I guess I was the main reason for the win.

Miami Al said...

parenting is hard,

Would that everyone thing that "not cursing" and "not lying" are hallmarks of Orthodox Jews...

Then again, I'm not as impressed with a sports fan that cheers for the Giants and the Yankees being a non-cursor... Trying being a Marlins/Dolphins fan for a few seasons and see how your non-cursing holds up... :)

I really with that the cursing, lying, cheating Orthodox Jews around me would STOP wearing their Kippah... nothing makes religious Jews look worse than that awful behavior.

Good job on doing your part to combat the stereotype. Especially doing it in a non-holier than thou way... nobody likes to be judged, but everybody KNOWS that they should curse less (or not at all).

Dave said...

I happen to think cursing is a disgusting habit (chewing gum too, and don't even get me started on smoking) and those who work with me know it without me jumping on a table, screaming at anyone, or making a big deal about it. The fact that is changed behavior around me makes me think it is a good thing.

All you've shown evidence for is that you dislike profanity, and that your co-workers are polite enough to defer to your sensitivities.

That doesn't mean they think it's wrong, it means they are well mannered.

ProfK said...

The ages of the two boys mentioned are 8 and 10. If this were pre-War Europe, those boys would not have been sitting in yeshiva all day. Compulsory education was already in place, even in the Eastern European countries, at this time, at least through what we call 8th grade, and began when a child was around 6-7.

Unlike the US today, the European yeshivot were not considered as private school substitutes for the secular school system, and so young Jewish boys attended public school. Any Jewish learning they got would be in the afternoons, either through a melamed being hired or through an organized cheder or through a family member or not at all.

High school, or gymnasium, was optional in many of the Eastern European countries. There were some places where boys of high school age were in yeshivot, learning full time, but this was not all boys of that age;indeed, it was actually a tiny percentage. This was not compulsory in the frum communities. Many boys were learning a trade in their teens and already out and working in their high school years. The image we have of huge numbers of yeshivot filled to overflowing with all the boys of the frum communities is simply not accurate or true.

This push to Gemorah at earlier and earlier ages is a fairly recent undertaking of the American yeshivot. The yeshiva ketanah my son attended would today be grouped with the "middle right" rather than with the modern schools. Back in the early to mid 80s the school first started teaching gemorah to the boys in 6th grade, and even then Chumash was a regular and mandatory part of the curriculum. They also learned Navi.

Yes, today's yeshivas to the right (and many in the middle as well), beginning in elementary school, emphasize Gemorah almost to the exclusion of anything else, but could we at least be honest and stop saying that we are doing what we have always done when we teach this way.

My 90 year old mother, born and raised "in der heim," bristles whenever she hears a born and bred American puffing that they are doing just what was done "in der heim." As she puts it "I come from 'in der heim,' and 'in der heim' was not like this." Apparently we Jews are not immune from tendencies to revisionist history.

JS said...

ProfK,

I good reminder. May I make a suggestion for your blog?

I, personally, would find it very interesting if you put up posts from your mother's memories of just what things were like back "in der heim". It would also be a great way to record a part of her life for posterity.

Shoshana Z. said...

Prof K,

Thank you for your last comment. Your perspective is music to my ears.

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