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BY GUEST: ELINOR G.
Mispronouncing words out loud and getting corrected by someone can be one of the most embarrassing situations we can experience.
We all have been there – you say a word, phrase, or a whole sentence that you’ve said many times before in a foreign language with such confidence only to suddenly hear a native speaker correct you. It can be in writing or a face to face situation, it doesn’t matter. Some of us will take it easy, correct ourselves, and move on quickly, even laugh out loud and thank the person who corrected us. But most of us will probably want the ground to swallow us.
I had some awful mistakes myself. I was sitting in front of a student, teaching her and using a word that I used many times before when I taught that subject, when suddenly she corrected me. What? I thought I hadn’t heard well, but there it was – in front of a student! What a shame!
The first thing you feel is stupidity. You feel stupid. you can’t believe it just happened to you.
Then comes the embarrassment – ‘But I’ve been using this word for years! Why did no one tell me?’
You might even blush for a few seconds. I’m a great supporter of experiencing all the rainbow of feelings, these feelings included. This is why Inside Out is one of the most important movies in my opinion. I won’t try to give you tips on how to turn your embarrassment into an amusing situation. But I will offer you an opportunity to see these situations that will keep happening to you as a blessing.
So why is this great? Because learning a language is a process and part of it is to be in the learning mode at all times. The faster you embrace the fact that there will always be more to learn, the better your learning will be.
Also, forget about feeling stupid. Your intellect has nothing to do with making mistakes in a language that is not your native one. And if someone around you speaks it better, it’s not because he’s smarter, but because he had more opportunities to learn. So all you really need is MORE opportunities.
By not putting your focus on the embarrassment that you’ve experienced you see it as an opportunity. Not only will you know better in future, but the element of surprise and the impact of the embarrassment will make this knowledge so firm that you’ll probably never forget it.
So at the end, always remind yourself what you can say better next time.
By guest: Dr. Peter Reznik
Morphology for educators.
Morphology (in Europe it is mostly knows as physiognomy or psycho- physiognomy) is the study of the correspondence between the form of the face and body and the inner qualities of personality and temperament. It provides understanding of the ways in which people think, their energy system, their emotional responses, and the reasons for their behavior.
People of different cultures recognized the great importance of understanding of meaning that stands behind the appearance, and over millennia they developed their unique ways of systematizing, organizing, and teaching this body of knowledge. The ancient Aryuvedic tradition in India has developed 3 body-type morphology (though the word morphology is used for Western system only); the Chinese tradition has developed morphology of 5 Elements, and the roots of morphology that has been utilized in the West go back to ancient Egypt.
Today France, Italy, Spain, Argentina, and China include it in formal medical training and clinical diagnosis. Personnel directors of major companies in Europe use morphology to determine the best fit of an applicant with a position, and educators use morphology to better understand the needs and challenges of their students.
One of the most successful alternative educational systems in the world with over a thousand independent schools located in 60 countries, Waldorf School requires it’s teachers to study and utilize in their work the science of morphology (See attached page on Waldorf education).
Practical Application of Morphology for Educators.
Morphological assessment identifies the students’ character strengths and challenges, any significant conflicts that exist within their relationship with themselves, others, and their environment, and the ways that would be most effective, according to their morphological type, to resolve problem areas.
Knowing the students’ morphological type can help the teacher quickly identify the unique approach each student requires for optimal learning. As the educators recognize their own morphological type, they are able to better understand the challenges they may face in teaching as well as in connecting with each individual student.
Waldorf (Steiner) education is a humanistic approach to pedagogy based on the educational philosophy of the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner. The first Waldorf School was founded in 1919 in Stuttgart, Germany. At present there are 1,026 independent Waldorf schools, 2,000 kindergartens and 646 centers for special education, located in 60 countries.
Waldorf pedagogy distinguishes three broad stages in child development, each lasting approximately seven years. The early years education focuses on providing practical, hands-on activities and environments that encourage creative play. Throughout, the approach stresses the role of the imagination in learning and places a strong value on integrating academic, practical and artistic pursuits.
Waldorf education is the largest independent alternative education movement in the world. In central Europe, where most of the schools are located, the Waldorf approach has achieved general acceptance as a model of alternative education.
Steiner considered children’s cognitive, emotional and behavioral development to be interlinked. When students in a Waldorf school are grouped, it is generally not by a singular focus on their academic abilities.
Instead Steiner adapted the idea of the classic four temperaments – melancholic, sanguine, phlegmatic and choleric – for pedagogical use in the elementary years. Steiner indicated that teaching should be differentiated to accommodate the different needs that these psychophysical types represent. For example, “cholerics are risk takers, phlegmatics take things calmly, melancholies are sensitive or introverted, and sanguines take things lightly or flippantly.”
Today Waldorf teachers may work with the notion of temperaments to differentiate their instruction. Seating arrangements and class activities may be planned taking into account the temperaments of the students but this is often not readily apparent to observers.
Steiner also believed that teachers must consider their own temperament and be prepared to work with it positively in the classroom, that temperament is emergent in children, and that most people will reveal a combination of temperaments rather than a pure single type.
By guest: Thomas S. McDonald
Is our ‘learning’ goal:
I.Initial understanding, or entertainment/motivational?
1. How to get from point A to Point B
2. How to do a fairly simple project, one time
3. How to entertain employees, via a well known comic
4. How to motivate employees, with a new product launch, via a well known motivational speaker
Or, is our goal:
II.To empower ALL our learners with adaptive, personally relevant skills, to advance, individual, sustained performance improvement outcomes (AISPIO), with key, individually relevant, critical information?
1. How to correctly, long term, effectively and efficiently communicate to AISPIO
2. How to correctly, long term, effectively and efficiently utilize math to AISPIO
3. How to change long term, individual unproductive behavior, to individual productive behavior to AISPIO
I. Traditional, 20th century, factory based, ‘teaching’ is event based, and is one size fits all. Think only of a large lecture, a large seminar, elearning that only has a one size fits all word document to read, possibly a one size fits all video of a lecture attached.
At best, this teaching approach provides superficial, individual, initial understanding, that is soon forgotten, for 20-30% of the participants. Why not 100% of the participants? Because the pacing of the information is only ‘matched’ to a select percentage of the total. For the remainder, its too fast, or too slow, hence compounding the ‘simple’ initial understanding problem. This is absolutely appropriate for the items in I. above, where individual long term retention, resulting in advanced individual performance improvement is not the objective.
II. 21st Century, truly personalized, research based, adaptive learning, in a blended and flipped learning environment requires a paradigm change, from one size fits all teaching, to personalized, relevant learning, professionally reinforced and facilitated over time. Why? Because writing long term memories, that can lead to advanced, individual, sustained performance improvement outcomes, requires more appropriate, relevant, individual reinforcement, over time.
It’s important to understand that the one size fits all teaching approach used in I., will not empower students to achieve the outcomes desired in II. Sure, a few remarkable participants, through sheer, personal will power, dedication, common sense and luck will achieve AISPIO, but it certainly will not be an efficient process for the learner; lots and lots of trail and error.
Now that we understand the basics, why would we think that continuing with traditional one size fits all teaching, for all learning scenarios, would be appropriate?
Results: Districts Schools
Research Available, BUT Not Properly Utilized
Forgetting Curve – Access the Infographic, Here
Una de las herramientas fundamentales para estimular y potenciar el desarrollo de un niño es el juego. Esta es la forma más rápida, práctica y divertida para aprender algo nuevo o repasar información ya aprendida. El toque “divertido” permite que se despierte una magia interna muy particular adentro del niño y esto hace que el proceso de aprendizaje sea agradable y atractivo.
A través del juego lo que hacemos es estimular el desarrollo de:
• El juego exploratorio y funcional: conocer al mundo y cómo funciona
• El juego concreto: con objetos realiza actividades de construcción y destrucción
• El juego simbólico: participa la imaginación y es espontáneo
• El juego reglado: seguimiento de reglas e instrucciones que ya vienen incorporadas en el juego o que los jugadores las inventan cada vez que lo juegan.
Cada una de las etapas del juego están relacionadas en muchas ocasiones con la edad cronológica del niño, es decir que cuando sabemos cuántos años tiene el niño, entonces sabemos el tipo de juego que está experimentando. Sin embargo, esto no funciona como una receta de cocina, ya que los niños que tienen algún retraso en el desarrollo o su proceso de maduración es más despacio de lo esperado para su edad (ya sea que el niño esté diagnosticado o no) requieren que el adulto observe de forma adecuada en qué momento o etapa se encuentra el niño para entonces escoger un juguete que realmente sea de utilidad para el niño y que este juguete estimule su proceso de aprendizaje.
Algunas recomendaciones prácticas para los padres y adultos que tienen a niños alrededor y están interesados en llevar al máximo desarrollo a los niños son:
1- Observa el niño, conoce su edad, sus intereses y preocupaciones.
2- Identifica el tipo de juego que este niño está experimentando en este momento de su vida.
3- Si el niño tiene algún diagnóstico o dificultad identificada, en su proceso de desarrollo, infórmate de una forma adecuada sobre el tema. Crea formas distintas de adaptar los juguetes según las necesidades del niño.
4- Pensar antes de actuar: lee las etiquetas de los juguetes antes de comprarlos. Apóyese en los recursos que están disponibles a través del internet para conocer más sobre el juguete y cómo usarlo.
5- Asegúrate de que los juguetes son apropiados para la edad del niño y que no haya un peligro potencial al usarlos. Evita piezas pequeñas o filosas (toma en cuenta la edad del niño).
6- Busca juguetes que fomenten la relación entre los miembros de la familia. Lea con atención las pruebas de uso.
7- Diversidad de tipos de juegos, colores, sonidos, formas, texturas, olores, usos, son características que consideramos indispensables en el grupo de juguetes que tenga un niño, para que esté estimulando sus sentidos desde diferentes puntos de vista.
8- Escoge juegos que ayuden al niño a resolver problemas y que le enseñen a tomar decisiones.
9- Jugar es divertirse. Ten cuidado de no escoger juguetes que generan estrés, miedo intenso y que despiertan la agresión.
10- Considera la calidad del juguete según el precio y considera que los juguetes van rotando según la edad y los intereses del niño, la mayoría son transitorios y no son conservados por mucho tiempo.
Fundadora y Directora de: LOGROS, Centro Terapéutico Integral y LOGRARTE.
Autora del libro: Despierta la Magia. Cómo los juguetes y el juego despiertan las habilidades únicas de tus niños.
By guest Ana Elisa Villalaz
One of the key tools to stimulate and promote the development of a child’s play. This is the fastest, practical and fun way to learn something new or reviewing information already learned. The “funny” touch allows a particular child in the inner magic to wake up and this makes the learning process a pleasant and attractive.
Through play we do is encourage the development of:
• The exploratory and functional play: to know the world and how it works
• Concrete game: objects conducts construction and destruction
• Symbolic play: participates imagination and spontaneous
• regulated Game: Following rules and instructions that are already incorporated in the game or the players invent every time you play.
Each of the stages of the game are often related to the chronological age of the child, ie when we know how old the child, then we know the type of game you are experiencing. However, this does not work like a recipe, since children who have a developmental delay or maturation process is slower than expected for their age (whether the child is diagnosed or not) require that adult properly observe at what time or stage the child then choose a toy that is really useful for the child and that this toy will stimulate their learning process is.
Some practical recommendations for parents and adults who have children around and are interested in maximizing development children are:
1- Look at the child knows his age, interests and concerns.
2- Identify the type of game that this child is experiencing at this time of his life.
3. If your child has a diagnosis or difficulty identified in its development process, get informed in an appropriate manner on the subject. Create different toys to adapt to the needs of child forms.
4- Think before you act: Read labels before buying toys. Rely on the resources that are available through the internet to learn more about the toy and how to use it.
5- Make sure the toys are appropriate for the child’s age and that there is potential danger in using them. Avoid small or sharp parts (taking into account the child’s age).
6- Look for toys that promote the relationship between family members. Read carefully the evidence of use.
7- Diversity of game types, colors, sounds, shapes, textures, smells, uses, are characteristics that we consider essential in the group of toys who has a child, that is stimulating their senses from different points of view.
8- Choose games that help children solve problems and be taught how to make decisions.
9- Playing is fun. Be careful not to choose toys that generate stress, which arouse intense fear and aggression.Consider the quality.
10- toy based on price and considers that toys are rotated according to the age and interests of the child, most are temporary and are not retained for long.
TeachersTrading.com is an online platform for teachers, from all over the world, to sell, buy and share educational material.
Teachers can share their products for free, or be paid for them.
1. There are two options to share your educational products:
a. Register as a member – free.
Post your learning tools.
Receive 60% for each product sold,
or give your educational tools for free.
b. Register as a premium member, $59.95 per year.
Post your learning tools.
Receive 80% for each sale,
or give your educational tools for free.
As a member, you may refer other educators to TeachersTrading.com and receive 5% for each product sold by them.
As a member, you have a personalized account page. Once logged in your personalized account, you can post and edit your products, view your purchase history and earnings, edit your profile and contact information.
From your account, you can refer others to TeachersTrading.com.
How many people will view your products?
1. When you post an educational tool, you want to promote it to your mailing list and to your social network groups like Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Promoting your educational tools on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn, can be done by clicking a button on your products page.
This will bring people to TeachersTrading.com and will create traffic.
Other member sellers have the same vested interest promoting their products, and will do the same. Traffic generates sales, resulting in an additional income, everyone wins.
2. You have a vested interest to refer the website to other educators because you receive 5% of their sales, and they will also promote their products on their social network, and may refer other educators to TeachersTrading.com. This will expend the pool of people visiting the site and seeing your products.
3. Member sellers who have a need for your educational tool, will already be acquainted with the website and are more likely to look at what you can offer at TeachersTrading.com.
4. Encourage your people to write comments. Research indicates that products that have many comments (good and bad) sell much better than products that have few good comments.
Based on a lecture by Rabbi Bukiet
The Shema, a Biblical verse, (Deuteronomy 6:7) begins with a commandment commanding the Jews to accept God as one; “Hear, O Israel! God is our God, God is one,” and continues with the commandment to love God; “You shall love God…” How can someone be commanded to love? The rest of the Shema is the roadmap/instructions of “how to love”, and how to teach it to our children. It begins with the verse; “You shall love your God with all your heart…” In Biblical and rabbinic Hebrew, the heart is the center of the intellect, meaning, that to love with the heart is to think and to act using your intellect, reason and knowledge. The verse continues with commandments that one has to do something, to act, in order to express his love for God. One of these commandments that defines how Jews should love G-d, commands Jews to teach their children the Torah. The Talmud (a collection of doctrines and laws compiled and written before the 8th Century, A.D., by Jewish teachers.) interprets the verse and argues that the teaching is done intuitively. The child learns from watching the parent’s behavior. Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040 – 1105 (Rashi), a medieval French rabbi commentator on the Tanakh –Old Testament and the Talmud.) interprets the verse as saying, that the way to teach the child is by repetition. To repeat the learned material again and again. Rabbi Abraham Ben Meir Ibn Ezra (1089–1167, Spain) interprets the verse as saying that the only purpose of man in the world is to serve God, and to do that, one should learn God’s creation, and study science, math, etc. Rabbi Moses ben Naḥman, (Ramban, 1194–1270, a leading medieval Jewish scholar in Spain) interprets the verse as saying that the only reason Jews are obligated to teach their children, is to teach them the commandments, to teach the difference between right and wrong. Spinning it to our time, teaching our children to love means: 1. Teaching them to act upon things. 2. The action of love needs to begin with us as parents/educators, setting the example. 3. Love is learning God’s creation – science, math, etc. 4. Repetition of learning is important. Share with us your opinion.
By guest Omri Lior
I am an Israeli documentary filmmaker. My project “Words with a View” is about the life experience and work of iconic Israeli poets and writers and their impact on the foundation of the Israeli culture.
Barbara Tuchman has so beautifully said “Books are the carriers of civilization. Without [them] history is silent, literature is dumb”…
My project, therefore, was born out of the premise that the creators of books are indeed the pillars on which civilizations and societies stand, and therefore they (poets and writers) are central to every nation and its constructed identity. I am fortunate to be living and working in such a young country, like Israel, where I can witness the creation of a new culture, and document those responsible for providing the glue that bonds the nation together.
My project “Words with a View” started more than ten years ago and has combined my two passions; Literature and film-making.
Through the process of documentation, and because I have a large body of testimonials of many writers, I have been able to see the richness and complexity, the elements that make up Israeli culture. Each writer offers only one perspective but together they form a body of knowledge that paints the foundations of Israeli experience that is currently disappearing. Without such documentation the combined experience will vanish.
Talking about vanishing Israeli experiences, let me share with you mine, and explain how and why I combine my two passions—literature and film-making
I was born in Haifa, Israel, in 1952, an era with no computers, video games or television. Luckily, I lived next to the Municipal Library and as soon as I knew how to read, it became my second home. That library fostered my love for reading and my passion for photography. Next to my favorite shelf was a display of “Life” magazine. With every new issue, I would flip right to the “Picture of The Week” which was magical to me. I would sit and look at those pictures, visualizing the story behind them and imagining myself being the photographer. It is there and then that I knew I wanted to study film. When time came to apply for colleges, no university in Israel could offer Telecommunications and Film Studies. Therefore I headed to SDSU in California to pursue my passion. After graduation, I returned to Israel and for the next 25 years worked as a producer/director – making various films and TV programs. However, my passion for Hebrew Literature and Poetry never faded and at the age of forty-five I studied Hebrew literature at Ben Gurion University of the Negev and there my project, “Words with a View”, had its first seeds and later on its first fruit.
For one of my courses I researched a poem written by the prominent Israeli poet Chaim Gouri who was born in Tel Aviv, in 1925. Each aspect of his life represents a historical or cultural event in Israel and his experiences mirror those of a particular generation in Israel.
Chaim Gouri studied at the Kadoorie Agricultural High School (together with the murdered former Prime Minister Yizhak Rabin). He joined the Palmach (The Fighting Youth Troops) and in 1947 was sent to Hungary to assist Holocaust survivors to immigrate to Mandate Palestine. Gouri studied literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and worked as a Journalist. As a journalist he achieved fame with his coverage of the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann.
During my research about Chaim Gouri’s poem, I was looking for first hand answers regarding:
The origin of the poem,
The usage of the language, and
The social, political and literary influences.
I wanted to inquire about the connection between his personal experiences and his writing because the secondary materials simply did not satisfy me.
So, I thought to myself… “Chaim Gouri is a living poet, living in Jerusalem; he probably has the answers”.
My professor Prof. Yoram Bronowsky approved my proposal to interview Gouri for my final assignment.
An hour later I called Chaim Gouri who said: (and I quote) “come tomorrow at 2 pm, for 30 minutes, right before my nap”.
I could hardly sleep that night… as you can imagine, to interview Chaim Gouri was a big honor. I was very excited!
Although, I was allotted 30 minutes, our conversation lasted more than three and a half hours. It was magical and I knew then that I had a treasure in my camera.
Reflecting on this interview, I realized that documenting him, capturing his life story, his thoughts, views, reading his poems and sharing his personal feelings in the intimacy of his work room, revealed my new understanding about the connection between Hebrew literature, poetry and Israeli culture. Themes, on which their writing focus, provide us with a variety of cultural references to sorrow, pain, friendship, war, heroism, in the emerging new Israeli culture.
Following my experience with Chaim Gouri I realized how important it would be to document other prominent writers, and build a series of films that would be called “Words with a View”. Combining them all together would create the tapestry of the Israeli culture. I believe it is a treasure, a foundation, an authentic voice of their impact and unique inspiration on the Israeli culture.
And I have been doing it ever since.
The name of my project “Words with a View” portrays the elements that are essential to the content of the films.
The word View signifies “a landscape seen from a particular point”. Hence the expression “point of view” which is applied also to a way of looking or examining any abstract issue. The “Words” which are the foundation to any massage or description of an event or thoughts or feelings, are being talked about and described from an angle which looks at the internal from the outside. The words which are parts of a book or a poem are seen, by my documentation, from a deeper view which takes us to the period of the writer even before he wrote them, while they were still being processed by thought. Later on those “words” present us another “view”, and this time from the angle of the effect they created having been published, and their impact on the readers. Their influence was such that it created lines of thought adopted by various groups of society in different eras of their life experience.
The words are being viewed also from the inside. They are part of the perspective they describe. They are the tool and the result. Words will always have a view. The words are the shadow of the Views and can be seen even in the dark.
For example, Yonat and Alexander Sened’ s book ‘A Land without Shade’ was created out of the landscape of the desert in the period of the life of the pioneers, and out of the point of view of the feelings of deprivation that they had as a result of the Holocaust and the War of Independence. The words created and written were born out of that landscape which can also be seen as a landscape or ‘view’ of emotions and thoughts.
When you look at any nation’s history or culture, the View, in my opinion, is created by the word but also creates the Word.
In my project, by filming and editing the interviews which talk about the “words” I myself create a View. On the one hand, the series “Words with a View” examines the actual views, the landscapes which helped shape the words of the writers who were documented. On the other hand ,“Words with a View” is a complete look at those writers which let us understand and preserve their experiences which mirror our culture.
My project allows audiences to have an insight into the lives of these literary icons and hear their authentic voices. They all create a cultural texture that is essential for the collective understanding of who we are.
Following my initial idea which was creating a film anthology of eminent Israeli poets and writers, these materials became a unique archive which:
• Preserves documents with historical information.
• Provides a legacy for future generations
• Provides a resource of research and education, serving both institutions and the public.
• And, it is also a way of teaching the Hebrew language.
I choose poets and writers for my project on the basis of the following criteria:
• Their recognition and acknowledgments by the Israeli society.
• Their being winners of the “Israel Price for Literature & Poetry”
• Their being Poets and writers that are considered as the “Pillar of Culture” of Israeli modern poetry & literature.”
I was fortunate enough to capture and document most of the living first generation of poets and writers. These include prominent names such as, Nathan Shacham, Chaim Gouri, Tuvia Rivner, Yehudit Hendel, Aharon Megged… All are in their 90’s.
I followed that by documenting the “New wave” generation of poets and writers, all of which are in their 80s. These include AB Yehoshuaa, Ruth Almog, Yitzhak Averbuch Orpaz, Amnon Shamosh and Israel Pinkas.
Each documentary film includes:
• An interview with the poet or writer
• Filming in a location that is meaningful to their work and in their life.
• And a collection of archive materials.
In each interview I ask them to:
• Share with me their intimate work space.
• Describe their work habits.
• Reveal what led them to write including the reason behind a topic and the language style (personal, political and social events during that period.
• Share meaningful childhood memories.
• Personal biography.
• Read from a selection of their work.
The creation of the film about Chaim Gouri which is called “I’m a Civil War” became a template for my other films.
Currently, the series “Words with a View” consist of 22 interviews of eminent poets and writers. 14 of them are full length documentaries. These films along with my lectures are screened at film festivals, theaters, cultural centers, special event and universities.
Only after 10 films I found out that each of them contains the components portraying a cross section of Israel’s culture through different topics: and here are some examples:
Parenthood – Aharon Megged Talks about his father with high admiration.
Childhood – Ruth Almog writes about her father’s death and the effect it took on her life.
Living habitat Yonat immigrated from Poland right into the kibutz which is located in the desert. Her adaptation was not easy.
Social and political events Chaim Gouri cannot accept the adaptation of east Jerusalem but made it as part of his life.
My mission is to continue documenting prominent Israeli poets and writers and preserve their legacy for future generations.
My vision is that this project will serve as inspiration for others, to capture and document other artists in various domains such as music, theatre and art that influence our culture.
Based on a lecture by Rabbi Alter Bukiet.
As an educator, did you ever encounter a situation in which you proved your opinion to be true, and yet, the majority of your colleagues, did not agree with you? Did you go with your insight or with that of the majority? Let’s see how the Talmud deals with this issue.
(The Talmud is a collection of debates among Jewish sages on the Torah laws, compiled in the 6th Century, A.D.).
In an aggada (a legend, parable, or anecdote used to illustrate a point of a Law in the Talmud) found in the Talmud, Baba Metzia 59b, rabbis debate whether an oven that became impure can be purified. ,All, except Rabbi Eliezer, agreed that it can not be purified. Despite rabbi Eliezer’s proofs of truth, the law is according to the majority. The question is why, and how is it related to our reality as educators?
Here is the translation of the aggada:
On that day, Rabbi Eliezer put forward all the arguments in the world, but the Sages did not accept them.
Finally, he said to them: “If the halakha (law) is according to me, let that carob ¬tree prove it.”.
He pointed to a nearby carob tree, which then moved from its place a hundred cubits, and some say, four hundred cubits. They said to him: ”One cannot bring a proof from the moving of a carob tree.”
Said Rabbi Eliezer: “If the halakha is according to me, may that stream of water prove it.
The stream of water then turned and flowed in the opposite direction.
They said to him: “One cannot bring a proof from the behavior of a stream of water.”
Said Rabbi Eliezer: “If the halakha is according to me, may the walls of the House of Study prove it.”
The walls of the House of Study began to bend inward. Rabbi Joshua then rose up and rebuked the walls of the House of Study and said: “If the students of the Wise argue with one another in halakha, what right have you to interfere?” In honor of Rabbi Joshua, the walls ceased to bend inward; but in honor of Rabbi Eliezer, they did not straighten up, and they remain bent to this day.
Then, said Rabbi Eliezer to the Sages: “If the halakha is according to me, may a proof come from Heaven.”
Then a heavenly voice went forth and said: “What have you to do with Rabbi Eliezer? The halakha is according to him in every place.”
Then Rabbi Joshua rose up on his feet, and said: “It is not in the heavens” (Deuteronomy 30:12).
What did he mean by quoting this? Said Rabbi Jeremiah: “He meant that since the Torah has been given already on Mount Sinai, we do not pay attention to a heavenly voice, for You have written in Your Torah, ‘Decide according to the majority’ (Exodus 23:2).
Rabbi Nathan met the prophet Elijah. He asked him: “What was the Holy One, Blessed be He, doing in that hour?”
Said Elijah: “He was laughing and saying: “My children have defeated me, my children have defeated me.””‘
Two rabbis who lived at different times interpreted this aggada
Rabbi Vilna Gaon (1720-1797), and Shmuel Eidels (Maharsha) (1555 – 1631)
The Vilna Gaon interpreted Rabbi Eliezer’s proofs (the carob tree, the water, and the walls) as criticism of the character of the rabbis in this aggada. He says that in order to pursue something one needs three qualities:
1. to be a minimalist – not to multitask, and be tied down to too many things.
2. to tame the ego – to be able to change views if needed.
3. not to be lazy – to change one’s opinion one must study the issue in depth .
The carob tree is represented in the Talmud as a minimalist. – Rabbi Eliezer used the miracle of the carob tree as a proof that he is correct. By doing so, he criticizes his collogues as if he is saying: “you are not minimalists, you do not focus on one thing at a time.
Water flows from the top (high ego) down. By having the water go up, a miracle that defies nature, Rabbi Eliezer suggests that his colleagues’ ego is too inflated, and that makes it difficult for them to change their minds.
The walls of the house of learning represent learning, and learning is not a form of laziness. One can not be a good student and be lazy at the same time. By having the walls caving, Rabbi Eliezer criticizes his colleagues as complacent. They do not make the effort to change their opinion.
Rabbi Shmuel Eidels interprets the proofs that Rabbi Eliezer brings as criticism of the leadership skills of the rabbis. The carob tree survives only 70 years, so is the leadership of the rabbis that will remain localized and limited in time, it will not effect the generations to come.
As for the water- he says that the leaders came to the decision because of their egos, and that they are not willing to change.
The walls he says, represent religion, and Rabbi Eliezer is suggesting not to use religion and to hide behind God, he wants the rabbis to explain themselves so people can live with their explanation.
After the rabbis did not agree, Rabbi Eliezer introduces a higher voice. The higher voice agrees with Rabbi Eliezer, but that does not help either. Then God looks at the argument, He smiles and says: “my children have defeated me, my children have defeated me” He sides with the majority. He is like a parent, and in a very compassionate way, He tells his child that He agrees with him, and yet disagrees with him too.
This Talmud is saying that humans do not live in the perfect spiritual Heavens, and sometimes even though the minority is right, it needs to accept the decision of the majority in order to prevent chaos. From the reaction of God to the conflict, one can learn that when one disagrees with the majority, one should find a way to live with it and at the same time to keep his/her convictions. God, through the voice from Heaven, agrees with Rabbi Eliezer, but yet, He smiles and says that his children defeated him, and sides with the majority. If one does so, we will have unity, civility, and respect to each other.