Reading List and New Year Challenge


I have just received The new issue of Conversations, the journal of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals. This issue deals with Orthodoxy: Family and Gender Issues. I had not realized the journal had been released so it was a nice surprise to find it when I came back from work today.

A few days ago I ordered Maimonides, Spinoza and Us: Toward an Intellectually Vibrant Judaism.

After a conversation with Jewishes via a post I checked Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’s latest book on the Internet and decided to purchase: Covenant & Conversation, A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible, Genesis: The Book of Beginnings.

I find that Rabbi Sacks is one of the greatest Jewish thinkers of our generation so thanks to this book I hope to continue to post reflections and insights on the weekly parshah every week.

Pre-Yom Kippur Weekly Review


On My Blog

Photo memes:
Swedish Island for Today’s Flowers
Textile Factory for Ruby Tuesday
Shul Windows: Stockholm for Window Views

Taking Over

Rabbi Lau in French Secular School

Weekly Recipe: Pumpkin Soup

Elsewhere in the JBlogosphere

Eureka!! We just got our water bill, Baila and her family have reduced their water bill

A never ending source of amusement, Mrs. S. attends the annual gan meeting

Fasting Tip, pieces of advice for the coming fast by Shimshonit

Interview with NJ Playgrounds, Leora interviews Sheila of NJ Playgrounds

Receiving an unexpected dividend from the karma bank, an “Only in Israel” type of post by Treppenwitz

Pumpkin Soup


Since I have too little time to go home for lunch on Fridays I have decided to bring food and eat at school. I also found last week that a soup in a thermos bottleis quite nice. I just need to make soup for Thursday’s dinner and re-heat it the next morning.

Yesterday my mother gave me about some pumpkin along with a few zucchini. I froze half of the pumpkin and kept the rest (about an eighth of a middle-sized pumpkin and searched the web for recipes. What follows is a combination of web recipes, the contents of my fridge and pantry and my imagination.

Sauté one soft onion and add the cubed pumpkin and one middle-sized zucchini (sliced). Cover the vegetables with vegetable stock and a tablespoon of curry paste. Then add 1/2 cup of red lentils and simmer until the vegetables fall apart. Season to taste.

To finish I incorporated a little coconut milk and then tossed in some chopped cilantro when I served the soup. However I tasted the soup before adding the coconut milk and it already tasted fine so just consider it an option.

Rabbi Lau in French Secular School


Of course, Rabbi Lau wasn’t physically present in my classroom this morning but the words he spoke in the video we watched seem to have made quite an impact on my students.

Thanks to Jew Wishes, who provided the link in a blog post, I read a wonderful and poignant article about Rabbi Lau and the Russian teenager who helped him survive in the Buchenwald slave labor camp.

On Tuesday mornings I have a group of four students. They are part of a larger class whom I meet twice a week but get an extra hour since they are preparing an oral exam and not a written one.

The idea is to provide them with extra material, vocabulary and cultural information on the topics we study with the class as a whole. I had already given the article to read (along with a few vocabulary exercises and questions) to my students and thought this small group would enjoy watching a video for a change.

The video can be seen on the Aish website – it is also possible to download it. Rabbi Lau speaks in Hebrew but there are English subtitles, which was nice for my students as two of them don’t feel very comfortable with English.

So the students watched it and took notes. I then asked them what they had understood before we watched it more carefully a second time. When we stopped it was obvious that they had been impressed by Rabbi Lau’s personal story, inspiring words and personality.

Taking Over


I have mentioned on one or two occasions that I have two new classes this year. I teach them Business English and prepare them for a two-part exam: a written paper and an oral.

For the written part of the exam the candidates get an article they have never seen before and which is related to a Business theme such as “Getting a Job”, “Human Resources”, Company Values”, “Retailing”, “Getting Global”, “Business Ethics” and ten more. They have to summarize it and translate a few lines. The oral is in two parts: they need to account for a written or oral document and also present a former work experience in English.

It is a new challenge both because it is completely new to me and because the students are older than those I am used to. I realize that I like the fact that they are older and usually more mature than ordinary high school students. It is nice to deal with young adults.

However I still feel daunted by the fact that all this is new to me. I am used to a certain type of English vocabulary and teaching situations but not to Business English – or at least not much. In addition I am taking over a colleague who had taught this course for years. Therefore I am always wondering if I am doing the right thing and what he would do.

I guess I’d need some sort of specific training that would help me feel more confident and at ease. Meanwhile I will have to trust my instincts and understanding of what the course is all about and how it should be devised and taught.