Leah at Beit Sefer
Read weekly letters from Leah below, and please visit our blog to see and read more about the activities in our program.
Dear Beit Sefer Families,
Why do we read Torah on Shabbat? Why is the Torah the center of what we do at the Saturday service? Why is it featured so prominently in our Beit Sefer curricula?
Growing up and studying Torah as a puzzle in a logical and methodical way was interesting. But, I felt like I was a witness to something that happened outside of me, separate from me. Torah was interesting to encounter, when a good teacher talked about it. It wasn’t something for me to do myself.
It was later as an adult when I was teaching Hebrew school and tutoring for B’nei Mitzvah that I encountered Rabbis and synagogues that had a different approach to studying Torah. Through my work with those leaders in those settings, my relationship to Torah shifted from being something apart from myself to feeling that I was a part of the tradition and more importantly, I was teaching that tradition of interpretation to my students. Since then, it has been important to me to work with students to feel that the process of studying Torah includes them, that the tradition invites them to take ownership and make Torah personal, and that we can connect with words that are thousands of years old.
I have recently recommitted to this part of our curriculum and to putting Jewish text study at the center of our community and learning. As part of this effort, I have been doing more of my own study, including the parashah drashes that you have seen in this space. I have modeled teaching for our teachers and am working with the teachers and madrichim to enliven this aspect of our curriculum.
Inevitably, our students will not remember the many stories, characters, and all the information we give them at Beit Sefer; but they can learn how to pick up a text, how to read it, reflect upon it, connect to it, and find insight and meaning in it. As they learn this, they become part of the tradition, and part of the ever-changing nature of Torah study. I look forward to the day when our students are presenting their insight and interpretation about the parashah on these pages.
I think that Torah is at the center of our observance because it is the tradition of Torah study and Jewish text study that gives us a way of simultaneously connecting with the past, present, and future while exploring the meaning of life.