Caffeine and Jewish Learning just go together

The Start of a New Year

It’s been quite a while since my time at CAJE and the idyllic atmosphere of Vermont has been replaced by the tumult of another school year beginning. We began our classes at Tiferet Bet Israel this week and it’s been a very strong/positive beginning. I feel the arrival of our new rabbi, Josh Kalev has been both a calming and energizing force on our families.

Already I have begun to utilize many of the sessions I attended at CAJE, especially in planning my Family Education programming for this year. And I plan on starting a new parents-only blog shortly to keep our parents appraised of everything going on in our religious school.

And since I always try to mix the two primary subjects of this blog together with every posting: Here’s another great coffee to try. It’s a Kona coffee that I discovered in my last visit to the Big Island. It’s called Kona Lisa coffee. Check out their website. They’re under new ownership but I would bet it’s still amazing coffee. I intend to order some very soon.

More to come from “the educational trenches”!


September 15, 2008 Posted by | CAJE, coffee | Leave a comment


Well..I’m back in Philly and thinking about the CAJE experience that we just went through last week. First, I’d say that having now attended my third consecutive CAJE Conference, this was the best one yet. Perhaps it was the verdant setting of the University of Vermont campus. Having lived in Burlington some 30 years ago, it was quite amazing to come back and see how much had changed both on the UVM campus and in the downtown area of Burlington. Both are highly attractive, modern and clean. Burlington is truly a tourist destination these days and you are urged to spend some time there if you’ve never done so.

But even more energizing than being in the fresh (although wet and rainy) air of Vermont is the way I returned to my work as a Jewish educator in my home synagogue. There is something revitalizing about being out of touch with newspapers and TV for four days and immersing oneself in an atmosphere of Jewishruach (spirit) and learning. The amount of session offerings over the course of three full days is truly staggering, and the best way to handle this is to attend with a group of people from your institution. Next year I am going to strongly urge our rabbi, Preschool Director and several teachers to team up with me so we can attend several different sessions and share our experiences afterwards.

And if you are a Jewish educator who has never attended a CAJE Conference (or it’s been several years since you’ve gone) please consider this experience next year in San Antonio. It will make a difference in how you proceed in your career development, both personally and professionally.

Finally, a few reflections on Burlington and Vermont. My wife Debbie and I drove up to Vermont the week before CAJE and went camping. Yes, in a tent with all the accessories. Actually I call it “Jewish Camping”: 3 days in a tent followed by a night in a hotel! Because it rained for much of the time we went touring in our car to see different sites.

Being the foodie and coffee lover I am, I was rewarded with much of what Vermont has to offer in the way of farmers markets, beer micro breweries, vineyards and coffee roasters. And everything in the state is “super Eco friendly”. Among my favorites around the state were:

  • Long Trail Brewing-Excellent variety of beers
  • Lincoln Peak Vineyard-Just south of Burlington, they have a tasting location on Rte. 7. Unusual selection of locally grown/produced wines.
  • Several superb, Eco-friendly coffee roasters, two of which are listed to the right in my Cool Links.
  • And of course, the world’s best variety of cheddars at Cabot Cheese. If you like it hot, try their Habanero cheddar…outstanding!

More posts to come!

August 20, 2008 Posted by | CAJE, coffee, Vermont | 2 Comments


It’s been an amazing whirlwind over the past 2 days since my last post. It’s now the middle of Wednesday (day 3 of CAJE) and I’m in the “Blogger’s Cafe”, a place to experiment with my blogs under the watchful and knowledgeable eyes of Debbie Harris. Here are some of the incredible sessions I’ve attended day 2:

  • FAMILY EDUCATION TRACK: For the 3 days of the conference I’ve spent my mornings in the Consortium for the Jewish Family. Organized by family educators Joel Grishaver and Ron Wolfson, we have learned from the master teachers in Jewish Family Education. I chose a specific track on education for families of teens. My teacher, Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan, is an amazing Jewish family educator who enlightened our group on how to educate teens and their parents in meaningful Jewish learning….not an easy task. But there is common ground to be found and those opportunites for creating Jewish learning and dialogue (where often dialogue between these groups is missing) are priceless!
  • INCLUSION: A well presented and valuable session by Fran Pearlman on creating and maintaining inclusion opportunities for special needs students in religious schools.
  • IS PURIM THE ANTI-PESACH?: An intriquing session on comparing and contrasting these two holidays that fall only a month apart. Did the rabbis intentionally place Purim a month ahead of the grandeur of Pesach for a pedagogic purpose? Great material for a text study course for adults.

More tomorrow on Day 3 and a final wrap on the conference. Nighty night!!

August 14, 2008 Posted by | CAJE | , | Leave a comment


Greetings from sunny (?) Burlington, Vermont! Today was the first full day of the annual CAJE (Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Educators) Conference and it was an action packed day. So action packed that I’ve run out of steam to describe some of the amazing and invigorating (for a wary Jewish educator) sessions that I attended. It’s now 12:15am and I intend to get more sleep than I had last night. So here is a brief list of sessions and I’ll get to the details tomorrow…after some of the excellent Green Mountain coffee they serve here (it’s also a blog about coffee!!):

Morning: A full morning learning about the most important aspect of Jewish education for today and the future: Family Education. More specifically, how to engage and energize Jewish teens and their parents, to create strong family bonds even though teens and their parents are often on different planets. More about this over the next few days.

Afternoon: I’ve learned to become a techno-geek! Actually, I learned how to create a blog under the terrific tutelage of Deborah Harris who is teaching oldies actually that’s anyone over 35) to love today’s technology and apply it to Jewish education and the students we want to reach. And for that matter, their parents too. We learned that a great way for teachers to showcase their student’s classroom work is on their own class blog. An idea I’m going to encourage our teachers to apply this year. We’re also going to begin blogs and wikis in our Media Center with our classes as well.

Well….that’s it for tonight. Got to get some sleep for another long but amazing day tomorrow.

August 12, 2008 Posted by | CAJE, coffee | , , | 1 Comment

Hello world!

Welcome to my blog! As a long time Jewish educator and gourmet coffee snob, I thought it was time to get into the 21st Century and start a blog. Why not…..millions of others are in cyberspace and I thought it would be wise for me to join them. Please join me as I explore two of my passions (not necessarily at the same time): Jewish learning and good coffee. Enjoy!

August 11, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment