Stories from the Field: Eran Rosenberg - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Stories from the Field: Eran Rosenberg

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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Eran RosenbergEran Rosenberg
Jewish Studies Department Chair
Columbus Jewish Day School (CJDS)
Currently a student in Cohort 7 of the Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education at HUC-JIR

Eran Rosenberg serves as the Jewish Studies Department Chair, teaching Hebrew language and Jewish Studies at Columbus Jewish Day School (CJDS). Born and raised in Israel, Eran began his professional career as an organizational and occupational psychologist evaluating educational systems and instruction, both in Israel and abroad. A former tank commander in the IDF, Eran is passionate about being a Jewish Educator in Columbus, Ohio and promotes the love of learning with all his soul and all his might.

The Columbus Jewish Day School began preparing for the possibility of school closure long before schools officially closed. Our head of school anticipated what might happen and created a schedule in order to prepare us should the need arise for us to transition to virtual learning. Teachers were asked to prepare lessons for two weeks of classes and were asked to gather materials for home learning which could be sent home with students in advance in the event of a prolonged school closure. When the Governor of Ohio announced on Thursday afternoon, March 12th that schools would be closed starting on the following Monday, CJDS teachers had a head start.

On Friday, March 13th all of our students took home a large bag filled with text books, worksheets, art supplies, science experiments—essentially all the materials were ready for them. Throughout the weekend and continuing on Monday, March 16th we delivered over 40 Chromebooks (including Hebrew keyboards for our Hebrew immersion students) to any families who needed devices, including those families with multiple children, ensuring that each child had a dedicated device to participate in live online learning. 

Morning TefilahOn Tuesday, March 17th we started teaching. Each student had five to six 30-minute synchronous lessons a day. In addition, I worked with the Judaic Studies faculty to create a meaningful, interactive, musical, daily morning CJDS Tefillah service with the goals to: appeal to K-6th graders, involve families, highlight the strengths of Judaic studies faculty, and include alumni students. The service evolved as Judaic faculty members met daily to develop it. We learned about each other, the tefillah experience deepened, and more community members were invited to join us. Students and teachers lead the different Tefillot. Our music teacher led us in different niggunim, other teachers led our virtual community in song, we developed Iyyun Tefillah introductory openings for tefillah helping all community members to enter the experience whether they were familiar with a particular tefillah or not. Invitations to think of ways we are grateful became an important part of the Modeh Ani, with students of all ages sharing things for which they felt grateful.  

We needed to develop ways to handle this live experience so that everyone could participate and practice respect for one another. I am including information about what we finally came up with. Keep in mind, we were developing an experience for over 70 participants, from 5 years old to 12 years old, along with younger siblings, parents, grandparents and other community members. See the attached Slide of Expectations that outlines the important rules/practices:

  • Sit away from the screen (instead of saying “don’t chat”)
  • Participate with your microphone on mute
  • Let the teachers lead the program and solve the problems

Virtual LearningAt our daily Judaic Studies planning session we reflected on the programs from that day, and determined who would lead the different aspects of Tefillah for the next day. We spent time troubleshooting technical issues we encountered leading this live tefillah experience as well as our individual google classroom live experiences. This daily meeting was used to support each other, academically, practically, logistically and served as an important resource for faculty to share feelings of anxiety (and help to alleviate them for one another), bond by sharing how much we were missing our students, and became a forum for us to deepen our relationships with one another. Knowing we could rely on these daily meetings was comforting. We had built a supportive place to ask for and receive advice and we knew we were all in this together and were there for one another. 

I believe that the experiences I had with the Zoom sessions during the EMA courses really helped me feel comfortable with the virtual learning platform. One of my colleagues, an editor of my EMA papers, told me that since this all started, she could see my leadership capacity grow as I applied the skills I wrote about in my EMA assignments, and that this was of great benefit to the faculty and school as a whole. I am very proud of the Jewish Studies Faculty, the CJDS students, and the entire CJDS community for transitioning to virtual learning so positively.

HUC-JIR's Executive M.A. program is generously supported by The Jim Joseph Foundation.

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 leaders to serve 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, museums, 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.