Archive for February, 2014

Jewish preschool Teachers Work on Constructivism

February 27, 2014

This article was originally published in JWeekly.

Oshman Family JCC teacher Renana Yarom makes an instrument at the conference. photo/courtesy oshman family jcc

Oshman Family JCC teacher Renana Yarom makes an instrument at the conference. photo/courtesy oshman family jcc

On a sunny morning last week, a group of early childhood professionals walked around a garden thinking and talking about how to grow Jewish values along with green leafy vegetables.

They were among 150 teachers and administrators from 10 Jewish preschools who gathered Feb. 18 in Palo Alto for a conference for early childhood educators.

Titled “Under the Fig Tree,” the four-hour event took place at the Taube Koret Campus for Jewish Life. It was held under the auspices of the Oshman Family JCC’s Leslie Family Early Childhood Education Center.

Much of the focus was on an educational theory called constructivism.

For example, one group of educators examined how to combine music and building skills by constructing instruments out of plastic milk jugs, wire, spare wood and old bicycle tires. Other teachers plunged their fingers into sand, water, clay and fingerpaint as they explored play in an open-ended environment.

“Constructivism is an approach that we and some other Jewish Bay Area preschools are now following,” explained Zvi Weiss, the Palo Alto JCC’s director of early childhood strategic initiatives. The Leslie Family school (formerly named T’enna Preschool) has been working for nine years to become a completely constructivist Jewish preschool.

Constructivism, also known as the Reggio Emilia approach, has educators partnering with the children in constructing their learning.

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© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

 

Funny Seth Rogen Gets Serious in DC

February 27, 2014

This post first appeared in The Times of Israel.

Actor Seth Rogan testifies on Capitol Hill. (YouTube screenshot)

Actor Seth Rogan testifies on Capitol Hill. (YouTube screenshot)

Seth Rogen appeared before a US Senate subcommittee on Wednesday to deliver a heartfelt plea for increased federal funding for Alzheimer’s disease research. The “Knocked Up” and “Pineapple Express” actor struck just the right balance between off-color humor and serious candor in his testimony, using plenty of Yiddish to break the ice.

The only problem was that only two members of Congress bothered to stay to listen to him.

Rogen, 31, let it be known later during an interview on MSNBC’s “Hardball” that he was extremely miffed by the decision of the majority of Senate Appropriation Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services members to absent themselves during his testimony. Only Senators Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) showed up and stayed in their seats.

Click here to read more and watch a video of Rogen’s testimony.

© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

Calendar Seeks Naughty Jewish Boys

February 27, 2014

This piece was first published in The Times of Israel.

Yoel Weisshaus in an ad for American Apparel. His nudity costs a lot more than $50/hour. (Courtesy American Apparel)

Yoel Weisshaus in an ad for American Apparel. His nudity costs a lot more than $50/hour. (Courtesy American Apparel)

Some women (and men) like their Jewish men naughty, not nice. At least, that’s the premise behind the call that went out on Craigslist seeking Jewish men willing to pose for a calendar that will show “the sexy side of Judaism.”

This new “Naughty Jewish Boys” calendar is meant as an alternative to the “Nice Jewish Guys” calendar and other examples of popular culture that allegedly emasculate Jewish men, according to its creator Duncan Pflaster. In his call last week for models, Pflaster, a New York theater professional, made clear he is looking for “men willing to pose shirtless, in underwear, or tastefully nude.”

But that doesn’t mean that he’ll entertain applications only from men with ripped abs and chiseled jawbones. “Chubby/hairy ok,” he posted. He’ll pay $50 per hour and previous modeling experience is not necessary. And get this—“yarmulkes and payos” [are] a plus.”

Click here to read more.

© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.