Meet Rebecca Berger, a DeLeT (HUC-JIR, C2 alumna) impacting Jewish education through her leadership!

Q: What is your current position?

I have been a Judaic Studies teacher at Alice and Nahum Lainer School of Sinai Temple (formerly Sinai Akiba Academy) for the past 9 years. Some of my passions include Project Based Learning, Design Thinking, and Interfaith relations.

Q: Are you doing anything extra outside of your teaching responsibilities?

I am leading professional development for the Middle School faculty which includes creating and implementing a peer coaching initiative, revamping PLC’s and leading bi-monthly book club discussions. I have also been leading a Muslim-Jewish exchange between my 7th graders and the the middle schoolers at a local Muslim day school. This year I’m planning on starting a Christian day school exchange as well.

Q: We hear you implemented a PBL unit last year. Please tell us about this program/project.

I asked my 6th grade Jewish History students: Just like Jews 2000 years ago had to innovate in the past in order to keep Judaism alive after the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, how might we make sure that Judaism continues to survive and thrive for the next 2000 years? Students researched, created problem statements, developed innovative solutions, and presented their innovations to parents and leaders from throughout the Los Angeles community. To learn more about this project, read this blog.

I’m proud of this project because students internalized my enduring understandings in a deeper way than they ever had before.

Enduring Understandings:

  1. Judaism’s current practice is based on the past but must remain meaningful in the present
  2. Jewish innovations require balancing tradition and change while holding to Jewish foundations.

They weren’t just learning about history. They were placing themselves in history, as they saw themselves as part of a tradition of Jewish innovators.

My advice for doing a design thinking project is to start small. You don’t have to necessarily do all of the steps. You don’t need a high-stakes outside audience. Start small and build your confidence. But get started!

Q: What are you listening to/reading these days?

I regularly read Cult of Pedagogy newsletters (https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/), browse MiddleWeb.com and edutopia. I’m currently reading “The Price of Privilege” by Madeline Levine. My favorite new podcast is Israel Story which sometimes I listen to in Hebrew.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working at your school?

I love my colleagues and the constant opportunities for professional development.

Q: What are some lessons you learned in DeLeT that have served you well in your teaching career?

Of course, DeLeT has taught me to be a reflective practitioner. It’s a habit of mind, part of who I am as a teacher and as a person.

Q: What makes you proud to be a DeLeT alum?

I’m proud to be part of a group of stellar teachers who think deeply about Jewish education and who strive to make Jewish education better.