How can I bring the text to life?
How can I make it relevant?
As Jewish educators in the 21st century, we are competing for students’ attention against smartphones, iPads and fast-paced flashy technologies. There are many successful initiatives working on adapting and appealing to a more modern mindset, without compromising the quality and value of our Torah and our tradition.
Perhaps one of the greater challenges is when a student asks “but what does this have to do with me?” – A question my mentor in college encouraged us to have before our eyes, whenever preparing a lesson. Torat cha’im – a Torah of Life, has what to say to us, wherever and whenever we may live. Often, what is missing is context. Understanding the context of what was being said, when it was said, to whom, against what geopolitical and social backdrop, can help us bridge the gap to understanding, connect us to the dilemmas and challenges, and awaken within us a desire to connect and to learn more.
There are of course as many approaches to achieving this as there are educators, and as an educator, I am offering my unique perspective on how bring a verse or a subject to life: Whether it is through activities, museums, media, geography, archaeology, etc.
As a Judaic Studies teacher over the last decade and change, I have taught in several schools, summer camp, formal and non-formal settings, dealing with wide range of subjects. I am currently teaching Jewish History (Second Temple, Holocaust, Zionism, Modern Israel and other subjects) in Magen David Yeshivah HS and in Allegra Franco School of Educational Leadership.
I offer Professional Development workshops to educators and faculty in Jewish Schools of all denominations. Workshops are custom made to your schools’ curriculum, and include lectures for teacher with accessibly and easy-to-use resources, mini-lessons, slideshows, media, activities and of course museum tours.
The primary focus of these sessions are Tanach, Second Temple period and the Jewish Year.
Most recently, I have done an in-service PD session for Ramaz Upper School, a Tanach Enrichment session for staff at Kushner Hebrew Academy and a special Chanukah program for Barkai Yeshivah, including two classroom sessions and a museum tour. I am working with several other middle schools and high schools in the tristate area, customizing PD sessions based on their individual curriculum requirements and needs.
You can find reviews and pictures below, as well as on my testimonials page at this link.
To book a workshop or tour for your school or organization, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Schools and institutions I have worked with (several more on the way, will post when complete):
- Barkai Yeshivah, Brooklyn
- The JEC, Elizabeth, NJ
- Ramaz Upper School, Manhattan
- Magen David Yeshivah, Brooklyn
- Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy, NJ
- YBH Passaic, NJ
- Kehillat Montessori, Silver Spring, MD
- Manhattan Jewish Experience
- Hadar Institute (formerly Mechon Hadar)
- Mesorah NJ
- Rutgers Hillel
- RJX – Rutgers Jewish Experience
- Congregation Beth Jacob, Atlanta, GA
- Boston TOARCH ’17, Foundation Stone
- YEHUDI, Florida International University
- Vacation Village Day Camp
The faculty of the Ramaz Upper School Bible Department really enjoyed our 3 hour session with Nachliel. We started in the classroom with an overview of reading materials and maps associated with the era and then accompanied Nachliel to view various artifacts from the Assyrian and Babylonian periods. He tailored the tour to specific areas of our Bible Curriculum as per our request and was interesting and entertaining throughout! I highly recommend the tour for both educators and non-educators alike, especially if you are interested in the context, both historically and philosophically, behind specific biblical texts.
Rav Nachliel led my ninth grade Jewish History students on an eye – opening tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Assyrian, Egyptian, and Babylonian wings. It was important to me that my students gain the requisite background knowledge to more deeply understand the Second Temple Period.
Before the museum trip, Rav Nachliel visited my classes to introduce artifacts which the students would be viewing in the museum. He also prepared excellent resource material including maps and accompanying text. The following week my two classes met Rav Nachliel at the Met. The students were excited to view the artifacts which Rav Nachliel had carefully selected. His descriptions engaged them and evoked curiosity.
A majority of the students had never been to a museum, and they expressed how much they loved and appreciated the experience as well as their desire to return. I noticed that the students approached the next part of their study enthusiastically as they researched and created Second Temple Period artifacts based on what they had learned at the Met.
Rav Nachliel was professional and thorough and provided an enriching and worthwhile learning experience. I highly recommend a museum tour guided by Rav Nachliel.
Magen David Yeshivah Celia Esses High School
Nachliel offers various of workshops and tours to enhance students engagement in Jewish education. From lectures for student, teacher training and professional development in the classroom and in the museum, Nachliel offers programs touching on Tanach, Jewish History and several important topics in Jewish Curriculum such as the Jewish Year and Holidays.
Keeping up with the expectations in my progressive, child-centered school for the last 6 years has proven difficult for the Judaic Studies department. As a mishna/halakha teacher, keeping up with the trips and projects executed by history and science teachers required creativity, but also heavily relied on me. After discovering Nachliel Selavan’s Met Tours through peer recommendations and social media, I knew I had to try it. A huge part of our school’s mission is to integrate curricula- to bring together secular and Torah studies into one seamless, comprehensive worldview.
I felt that the best unit to experiment with Nachliel’s program was in our Hanukkah unit. As a halakha teacher, I am responsible for teaching Hagim, but not just the practical laws- the ideology, historical context, and cultural relevance are always part and parcel of the legal structure. Having worked with Nachliel in school before, followed him on social media and began learning with him as my teacher earlier this winter, I was confident with Nachliel’s knowledge of history, art, and culture and was sure in his ability to bring all of these pieces together through the eyes of a Torah Jew.
After finding a sponsor, I pioneered Nachliel’s program for my school. We scheduled two guest lectures given by Nachliel in class, in which he orally–very excitedly, I may add- gave middle school students a colorful, exciting and detailed historical background of Hellenistic Palestine, from Philip of Macedonia to Antiochus IV Epiphanes. He told tales of Alexander the Great and led us through the dividing wars of the Ptolemies and Seleucids. In our second class, Nachliel brought in a large map of Israel, familiarizing us with some of the cities relevant to the Maccabee, focusing of the details of of two of the battles, highlighting Judah the Maccabee’s exemplary war strategy and military prowess. This class gave the students a clearer perspective on the war of Hanukkah and rooted it in reality.
With the stories and history gained from the guest classes, we headed off to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Nachliel met us right at the entrance, and after hanging up our coats, each student was handed their own clipboard with some activity sheets and a pencil. As Nachliel walked us through the Greek Gallery (with a pit stop at the Egyptian gallery), he showed us pieces that represented values in Hellenism, like vases with images of mythological creatures, gold jewelry, coins of military leaders, and remnants from the Olympic games. The students frequently referenced their activity sheets where they matched images of Greek gods with icons, read quotes of Alexander the great, and saw the connection between Bnei Yisrael and their sister culture, Hellenism. Through our walk in the gallery, it became apparent how prevalent Hellenism ws throughout the known world, which explained the historical context of the Hanukkah story. We discussed the similarities and differences in judaism and hellenism, giving the students a wider perspective and deeper understanding of the underlying issues of Hanukkah.
Throughout the tour, my students made connections to many other units they covered in all of their studies, and delighted in that they were able to integrate their knowledge. After the tour, the students thanked me heavily and unanimously agreed that they felt they connected more with the story of Hanukkah after having done the tour. Nachliel, they agreed, was knowledgeable, passionate and brought this piece of history to life. Like one student said- “I never knew that these galleries in the museum had anything to do with the Jewish people-but now I see that we really were there”. The tour gave my students a feeling of relevance and belonging to the ancient world, and they walked out feeling uplifted and happy with their newfound understanding of this time period. I am very grateful that these tours exist and look forward to doing more in the future, in relation to Hanukkah and other periods in Jewish History.