Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Notes Toward a Jewish Poetry Curriculum

A few months ago I started to draft a "Jewish Poetry Curriculum" for the Hebrew School at the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, IL. Maybe all of you out there--you are out there, aren't you, albeit silent as the strictest psychoanalyst--could give me some suggestions?

There seem to me three "Enduring Understandings," as they say in the Education Biz, that students ought to retain from such a curriculum, namely:

1) Jews around the world have written memorable poetry from Biblical times until the present day;

2) Reading (and writing) Jewish poetry is a form of Jewish practice; that is, a way to identify as a Jew and to participate in Jewish civilization; and

3) Poetry is an art--maybe THE art--where the dynamic tensions and benefits of living in two civilizations are most powerfully and productively dramatized, both in content and in form.

"Living in two civilizations" is, of course, a Reconstructionist catchphrase, but I'm sure you get the drift of it. "Dynamic tension" comes from the old Charles Atlas ads.

In future posts I'll consider each of these in turn. What do you think of them, or of the project as a whole?

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