"Living History" through Experiential Theater Education at 2014 Sara S. Lee Seminar

Monday, October 6, 2014


Students and faculty of Rhea Hirsch School of Education began the year 5775 by participating in the Sara S. Lee Seminar—24 hours in Malibu, CA immersed in experiential learning with scholar-in-residence Joyce Klein. 

A theater educator living in Jerusalem, Klein modeled her brand of “living history.” She transported faculty and students to the year 210 CE, transforming them into students at Rabbi Yehuda’s Beit Midrash in Tsippori and brought questions from daily life for deliberation.  Five of the students became her cast of characters for dinner with the tribe of Naftali and participated as the tribesmen selected new judges.  She shared her entrepreneurial story as an educator and business woman who founded her own company, Parsha Productions.

The students were encouraged to explore the use of dramatics in their teaching both in and out of the classroom.  They concentrated on how an educational leader can infuse the dramatic arts throughout a school or camp.  A highlight of the Seminar was the dramatic shacharit service held on a mountaintop overlooking the Pacific Ocean! 

Dr. Michael Zeldin, Senior National Director of the Schools of Education, noted that the Sara S. Lee Seminar is perfect way to bring the students together as a community while the school year is still getting started.  “This retreat allows us to learn together in real time, rather than in the episodic time of classes.  This means leaving our schedules, our electronic devices, and our family obligations to be together as a community in a completely different way.  It establishes connections between the students and faculty that are crucially important throughout the rest of the school year.”

The Seminar is held every other year to honor Sara S. Lee, the longtime Director of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education (1980-2007).  The Seminar is supported by a fund established in Professor Lee's honor by the Rhea Hirsch School of Education Alumni Association.   

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu