One of the best ways to convey your love for Judaism is to share what you know. The more people who understand and appreciate the sacredness of the Torah, the better. The same can be said for educators who are passionate about imparting knowledge in a way that makes sense and inspires students to learn Torah responsibly and authentically. As we celebrate and grow as a people, it’s important to remember why teaching Torah matters so much. In this blog post, religious teacher Samuel Waldman will talk about why teaching Torah matters, and why it’s such an integral part of Jewish learning.
What’s the significance of teaching Torah?
There are many reasons why teaching Torah matters. At a fundamental level, it stands as a bridge between two cultures – the Hebrews and the non-Jewish world. Without the ability to read and write, how would we be able to communicate with one another? And how would we be able to convey our love for Judaism to the wider world? In addition to this, teaching Torah helps make an impact on future generations. It’s an important part of global education, and a great way to encourage young people to want to learn more about Judaism.
What can you do as a teacher to make learning Torah meaningful?
There are many ways to make learning Torah more meaningful for students. Here, Samuel Waldman shares a few ideas:
Invite students to explore Judaism on their own – You can allow students to journey through various stages of learning about Judaism on their own. This could be related to learning a particular verse or a concept in-depth.
Challenge students to think differently – Meditation, writing letters to distant relatives, and exploring different mental health resources are all ways to challenge your students to think differently.
Offer an authentic and meaningful cultural experience – Whether it’s taking a trip to Israel, going to a local shul, or learning about a culture from an outside perspective, you can make learning Torah more meaningful by offering an authentic, cultural experience.
Don’t just focus on the content – There’s no reason for your students to memorize all of the laws and details of the Torah. Instead, encourage them to learn how the laws and rituals are connected to larger ideas and ideas that everyone can understand.
Why teaching Torah matters – A Jewish Perspective
There are many reasons why teaching Torah matters, why it’s such an integral part of Jewish learning, and what could change our minds about it. Here are a few:
Traditionally, Jewish students have attended school years longer than their peers. This has many advantages, including the ability to learn and transmission of a culture that has long been lost to us.
Learning enables us to learn new skills – Learn about new technologies, languages, or cultures. This may include learning a new skill, or learning how to be ildi, or how to make matzah balls.
Learning is a lifelong journey – No two people will ever have the same experiences or gain the same understanding as others in your community. This can be an invaluable part of your education – both as a teacher and as a student.
How to teach Torah to inspire people to learn responsibly & authentically
There are many ways to make teaching Torah more meaningful for students, but one of the most impactful ways is to make learning Torah more meaningful for the students themselves. It can be hard for students to take ownership of their learning – everyone wants to feel special. This can make it even harder for students to learn – as they may not want to spend as much time on the assignments or feel pressure to “complete the course”. One way to overcome this is to have students take ownership of their learning. This can be as simple as teaching them how to do proofreading, or having them create their own learning assignments. You could even have them write a reflection piece after they’ve finished learning. This can help students realize that they care about what they’re learning, and that it makes sense to them, explains Samuel Waldman, former teacher at Yeshiva Tiferes Moshe.
The power of an education that makes sense and inspires action
It’s easy to get bogged down in the details of a legal code, or a religious text. It’s even easier to lose sight of the big picture – to become so focused on the words that you miss the actions that are required to properly implement them. One way to overcome this is to have students learn about social justice issues, or environmental stewardship. Learning about how certain practices benefit the community as a whole, and not just the individuals involved, can help students to wake up and smell the coffee a bit. Learning about ways that we as humans can be better, and about ways we can help protect what’s left of our environment, can also make students think critically about the way that they approach learning. This can make them want to learn more – and make you want to share the knowledge you have with them, too.
Teaching Torah is an important part of Jewish life. Not only does it help make our culture and our religion known to the wider world, but it’s also an invaluable part of training future generations to keep this sacred text in proper form.