Archive for the ‘Peter’ Category


August 6, 2007

Remarks from the CAJE 32 opening session, Sunday evening August 5. 

Shalom CAJE 32! 

Here’s a story Peninah Schram taught me: Once upon a time there was a poor Chassid who wanted to study and learn.  He decided to attend his Rebbe’s tish. The Rebbe gave a very erudite lesson, citing Rashi, Ibn Ezra and Nachmanides The shi’ur went over our poor Chassid’s head. Then the Rebbe told a wonderfully mystical story containing references to the S’phirot. Our poor Chassid was totally lost – he felt very uncomfortable as those around him closed their eyes and began to sing a nigun. Our poor Chassid was tone deaf.  He couldn’t carry a tune.  He was ready to leave, but then the Rebbe stood and began to dance. Our poor Chassid found himself in the middle of the dancing mass of students twirling with fervor, moving in time with his Rebbe. The lesson spoke to him.  He was engaged in his own unique way. We take from the past, and apply to the future.  This story of our poor Chassid helps us understand the direction we must journey as we reach out to learners of the future.  At the beginning of the process of creating this conference a year and a half ago we came to understand that modes of education we are all used to need to be enhanced. Our students are different.  Their approach to learning is different. How they interact with Judaism is changing rapidly. I like to think of this as a revolution in how Jews of the future interface with their heritage of the past So, we need to redefine how we relate to our students.  We’re talking about a change in our frame of reference. We now must take into account the concept of virtual….

  • Classrooms
  • Communities
  • Friends
  • Networks

 Jews of the future are searching for ways to ENGAGE with their past and translate it into THEIR future.  Our job as Jewish educators is to redefine ourselves as Facilitators of Engagement.  We need to be ready to step out of the box in which we have grown comfortable; catapulting ourselves into a new frontier that defines teaching and learning in ways that we may not NOW totally comprehend. Hopefully, by Thursday, we’ll have a clearer idea. 

At this conference we will be asking 3 questions:

  • Who are the Jewish Learners?
  • How do we engage these learners? 
  • And finally, who will follow us in this task of building a Jewish future? 

The sessions are structured around these questions. Please refer to the program book for more details. 

So Iris Schwartz, the CAJE 32 Conference Co-Chair and I welcome you to CAJE 32.  Bruchim HaBaim to the beginning of a journey that we hope will not end on Thursday, but will continue on our new CAJE wiki, blog and website.  Together we can continue the dialogue that begins here. 


Notes from the Chair – Peter #2

August 2, 2007

You never know who you will meet in an airport.

On my way to St. Louis I found myself between flights in the Atlanta airport. As I was sitting by the boarding gate, I heard a voice ask me if the seat next to mine was available. I said yes and looked up to see a young women sit down. She wore the desert camouflaged regulation Army Combat Uniform. She was 18 and traveling from a base in Florida to one near St. Louis. And she was deploying to Iraq in a few months.

What does this have to do with a conference on Jewish education? Everything. Many times you never know what to expect. Students are surprising. Sometimes they rise to the occasion in ways we never can predict. Sometimes, we as educators find new ways to reach them. For me at least, the “aha moment” is when teaching is most rewarding.

The process of creating a CAJE conference is like that too. We – the visioning teams and the mazkirut – dreamed of ideas and programs that we wanted to see take place at CAJE 32. We went in surprising directions, the first being the transition to the concept of engaging in the future as the theme. I’ll mention this Sunday night, but for now I’d ask you to think about the distinction between learning and engaging.

The young soldier made that concrete for me. You see, I didn’t expect to have a personal encounter with a young warrior. I certainly didn’t expect that she would enable me to rearticulate my personal goal for CAJE 32. Yes, I dream that this conference will provide us all with tools to create new modes of interacting with our students. I hope that come August 9th we will have more comfort with technology and new ways of thinking. For me it will be a success if we participants continue to dialogue about what we’ve discovered after we leave St. Louis. But what I didn’t expect was that I would translate my vision in the following way: The heritage and traditions that we successfully pass on to those who follow us, who stand on our shoulders, will provide them with the tools to build a world where they would not have to send their daughters to war.

CAJE 32 is meant to be a rung on a ladder that will create new worlds for us and for those who follow. We are standing on the first rungs. Together let’s start climbing.

The Night Before CAJE 32

August 2, 2007


 After 90 minutes 27 CAJE staff and volunteers assembled 1,289 Conference teekim (packets).

 We’re now ready for registration. Let the Conference begin!

Notes from the Conference Chair – Peter #1

July 31, 2007

I’ve never written a blog before. Yes, a Shehechyanu moment. I just learned this week how to interface with a wiki. Very cool. Steep learning curve, but I think it’s like driving. Once you learn, you don’t forget.


Hi. I’m Peter Eckstein, and I’m the conference chair for CAJE 32. Back in 1994 I went to my first CAJE. I won’t say where it was. Let’s see if any of you can figure that out. And then you can add it as a comment to this blog. You are not allowed to look in the program book!!

Anyway – welcome to the 21st century. I don’t mean to be obnoxious but the point of C32 (that’s what I’ve been calling it for about 1.5 years) is to thrust us into a world that speaks to our students. We need to learn the same language.

Wiki. Web 2.0. Blogosphere. Email seems to have become passé. At least that’s what my daughters say. Now it’s facebook and myspace. What do we do with this technology? How do we create a connection with Judaism that speaks the language of those who come after us?

CAJE 32 is designed to open doors to provide the tools to help you find answers to these questions. Or start to, anyway.

This is a work in progress: This blog and this site and this conference. It doesn’t end on Thursday, August 9th. We can and must continue the conversation. How? Well, I guess you’ll need to keep reading over the next week or so to find out!

Until my next entry, L’hitra’ot.