As we complete the first quarter of 2023, I feel a deep sense of accomplishment radiating out amongst my colleagues near and far, but I can also feel our collective exhaustion. Important and meaningful work is being done throughout the field of Jewish education, and yet the work becomes increasing challenging with every passing day.
I don’t have a remedy for those very real struggles, but I do have thought leaders to whom I turn for inspiration, like Susan Magsamen, author of the forthcoming book Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us.
Founder and executive director of the International Arts + Mind Lab (IAM Lab), Center for Applied Neuroaesthetics at the Pedersen Brain Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Susan teaches that engaging with arts—in any form—can rejuvenate us and give us the energy and fortitude to face challenges. Creativity provides a respite for our minds and bodies, and allows us to connect with one another and our communities in a more meaningful and present way.
In this issue of Sight Line, you’ll get an inside look at the 2022 class of Covenant Foundation grantees. As you consider your own work and that of the inspirational group of educators featured here, consider some of these lessons we’ve learned, as we nurture and support our past and present grantees, award recipients and Pomegranate prize recipients:
Think creatively and expansively. Sometimes just allowing yourself to consider, on paper, one of your dreams, can manifest its reality far more than just thinking about it in abstract.
Consider how you might enrich Jewish classrooms and learning spaces (a la Magsamen’s idea of an “enriched leaning space”). Add texture, add color, bring the outdoors inside, and free yourself from the conventions of traditional learning spaces.
Pay attention to the needs of your community. Listen closely to people when they tell you what they’re searching for. We are all looking for connection. It might come over a meal together, listening to music together, baking something together, or simply watching the sun rise, together.
Inspiration is everywhere, and it’s a salve. Look for it and grab it when you find it. Let us know what you discover.
-Joni Blinderman, Executive Director, The Covenant Foundation