Sunday, December 30, 2012

Interdisciplinary Studies at Yavneh Academy

As a proponent of interdisciplinary studies -- I'm Coordinator of Interdisciplinary Studies at The Frisch School in Paramus, NJ -- and a parent at Yavneh Academy in Paramus, NJ, I was obviously excited to see interdisciplinary studies be implemented at my children's school last week, on Christmas Day, December 25. The interdisciplinary program was called YID, Yavneh Integration Day, and the acronym is appropriate, since YID means Jew in Yiddish. Though the ethnonym has sometimes been employed pejoratively by anti-Semites, I like Yavneh's re-appropriation of the term for use in a manner that shows Jews engaging in lively and meaningful ways with the world around us.

Here is Yavneh's summary of its integration day:

With December 25th having fallen on the weekend the past two years, this was the first chance in three years for our Middle School to have its annual Yom Iyun [Day of Learning] on that date. 

After tefilla [prayer] and a delicious breakfast prepared by Terry Infield, our students participated in our first-time ever YID - Yavneh Integration Day, a day of learning across the disciplines with one unified focus.  Our theme yesterday [on the 25th] was "The Jewish experience in exile - History, Halacha [Jewish law], and Happy New Year." Under the guidance of both Judaic and General studies teachers, our students spent time learning about the reason for our long sojourn in exile, how we relate to non-Jewish holidays (both religious and secular), and about the history of the American Soviet Jewry movement on commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Freedom Day march on Washington.  The sessions combined original source material, historical accounts, and video footage in order to provide our students with an broad understanding of some of the issues and challenges that we face in exile.

Following the learning portion of our day, almost 60 students joined us at Bowler City for a bowl-a-thon to raise money for three important causes: relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy; One Israel Fund's program to provide coffee and cake to soldiers protecting Gush Etzion; and our own Student Council.  Our students had an amazing time and raised roughly $800 for the various causes.

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