Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dogs and Judaism

My 7th grade students love their dogs. When they asked if they could bring their dogs to Hebrew School, I of course said yes, and then turned the day into a learning experience. They all know how to take care of their pets, but does that connect to Judaism? We all know the answer is yes, but they haven't made that connection. Check this link out to see what we're going to learn, and how to make a "bring your dog to Hebrew School day" one of learning and fun.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

National Day of Unplugging

My name is Arnie, and I’m a techno-holic. I have become addicted to my Blackberry, and it to me, I’m convinced. There is not a waking hour that I’m without it, checking emails, texts, updates, etc, etc. I admit making the mistake of checking an email while at dinner, only to be reprimanded like a little kid caught passing notes during class—right in front of the teacher.
I also admit I’m not looking for any rehab at this time. I like it. I like being connected. So do my kids, who are the ones that started me on the road. We don’t really talk on the cell phone—very passé—we text. And I get more information from them this way; remember when you asked your child, “What did you do in school today?” only to get a ‘nothing’ answer. Now the responses are at least 2 or 3 words, spelled creatively of course.
As connected as I am to technology, I find it healthy and refreshing, if not challenging to put it aside for one day a week. And that is precisely what Reboot, a nonprofit think tank, is encouraging Jewish people to do the weekend of March 4 & 5. This past week, reported on a new app for your smartphone, due out by Feb 25th, developed as part of Reboot's 'National Day of Unplugging'.  As reported on the blog, they explain:
Bucking the trend of technology that allows people to tell everyone that they’ve checked into their local restaurant, cafe or bar, Reboot has developed a smartphone app that helps users “check out” of the internet altogether. The app ironically will use technology to shut down technology.
Think of it as rehab for the smartphone. By using technology, the Sabbath Manifesto app is intended to spur a massive movement away from technology on the National Day of Unplugging, March 4-5, 2011 and beyond, and a return to the values inherent in a modern day of rest: reconnecting with family, friends and the world around them.
A number of my students and I are going to experience this together—essentially going through a ‘day of withdrawal’ and supporting one another. We will lock up our cell phones in my office, in the off position, of course, and celebrate Shabbat—one hour at a time. It’s going to be a difficult challenge for those who text, update, call, photograph on a minute by minute basis. And at the end of it all, we’ll update you on how we did.