700 attend workshops at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation

January 17, 1994|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

They came from as far away as Richmond, Va., and Allentown, Pa., looking for new ways to teach old ideas.

Nearly 700 people crowded into classrooms at the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation on Park Heights Avenue yesterday to learn how to use Mother Goose rhymes to teach values, how to teach Judaic concepts through ecology and how to teach martial arts in Hebrew.

The daylong series of workshops was one of eight miniconferences being held this year throughout the country for Jewish educators and others interested in religious studies, said Julie Auerbach of Cleveland, a board member of the national Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education.

It was sponsored by the Council on Jewish Education Services in Baltimore to offer teachers and others in the Jewish education community the latest in creative teaching methods.

"It's an unusual opportunity," said Dr. Paul Schneider, director of education at Chizuk Amuno Congregation in the 8100 block of Stevenson St.

"There is a frustration in knowing there are hundreds of workshops and I can take only three," he said.

A Talmud instructor, he said he found the sessions that used drama particularly exciting.

"I left and I had an idea right away," Dr. Schneider said.

He said he would adapt the technique of asking adults to select a place or person on a floor map of Israel to pique children's and adults' interest in traveling to the country.

Many of the classrooms were filled for the approximately 112 sessions. Among the most popular was a storytelling session by Rabbi Elan Adler of Beth Tfiloh, in the 3300 block of Old Court Road. His reputation of reciting tales with a message drew a standing-room-only crowd.

People grinned as he rubbed a fist on his chin and imitated the hum of an electric razor, nodded knowingly at the punch lines and laughed as he flipped his tie, mocking a pompous actor.

He spoke of a boy who nudged his father to put down the newspaper and come play with him. In exasperation, the adult tore out a page that featured a map of the world, shredded it and told the child to go put it together, figuring that would take a few hours.

But the boy returned in a half-hour, with the page taped together perfectly. His father, amazed, asked how the lad did that. The boy explained that the other side of the page had a large picture of a child and he used that to piece the paper together.

The moral, said the rabbi, is "if you put the child together properly, the rest of the world will take care of itself."

Rabbi Adler, who delighted the crowd with about 10 stories, said he has got material everywhere from sermon manuals to folk tale books. "It started out when I was a camp counselor," he said. "Now, as a rabbi, I find they are the best way to get to the heart of the matter -- and the heart of the person."

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