So much was exciting, valuable and new at the NewCaje conference -- so happy to be there teaching, storytelling and learning. The sessions and attendees I encountered were most often filled with experienced principals and educators who themselves are innovators of new approaches to meaningful Jewish learning and living.
My focus was on teaching mitzvah-centered living, sharing all of my tools, methods and principles from my decade of B-Mitzvah (R)evolution work, and integrative whole-body learning and hashpa'ah through storytelling and accessible theater-learning methods together with Penninah Schram, Arthur Strimling, Gerald Fierst, Dante Gordon & Jennifer Rudick-Zunikoff. The educators' joyful engagement and appreciation of our methods of experiential Jewish education was wondrous to see.
It is still proving important to point out a simple thing, when students are seated in rows in religious school (or anywhere) they only see the back of the head of the students in front of them and the face of the teacher. This suppresses the building of relationships between the students, increases problems with discipline and interest in the subject - makes it difficult to listening for meaning to fellow students (can't see their facial expressions or body language) and limits the possibilities of community building -- I consider it a form of educational abuse. Panim el panim is the way of holiness, imho.
The closing was structured as a simple, healthy spiritual experience of centering, awareness, remembrance and gratitude. Love the new generations of young Jewish educators present, lots of talent, curiosity & innovation everywhere you look. Such a great period of history in which to be Jewish! We are blessed.
Observing Peninnah Schram and Cherie Karo-Schwartz teaching together along with Peninnah being honored, as you can see in the photo, by the visionary President of NewCaje, Cherie Koller-Fox were highlights.