Looking Back on a Year of Lev HaShavua

Jay Goldmintz
Written by:
Jay Goldmintz
Access editable doc with student handouts:

I ran Lev Hashavua sessions over the course of the year with two of my senior classes. To know whether it was a success or not, you can read the following samples:

I found the “Lev HaShavua” really meaningful. I learned so much about my friends and also felt more grounded in myself. I have grown as a listener from them.

I really did enjoy them, and I found giving my own to be a very interesting experience. I think that listening to others helped me to both understand them a little better and forced me to think about myself and my own actions and experiences. And of course, I loved bringing in my baking :)

I also found it very impactful for me because it gave me a chance to reflect on my week, and my relationship with Hashem especially that week when the guest from Israel came (I can’t remember his name). [jg – thank you Yishai!]

And then there was the student who was perceptive enough to suggest that the weekly sessions made the conversations about Torah during the week much more open and personal than they might otherwise have been. That, in part, was not only because of the students but because I as a teacher was much more sensitized and attuned to asking questions in class that would probe a little deeper, that would touch the core of belief and identity.

In short, it was a pretty big success. And yet, I walked away a little disappointed. I began by doing parnass and there were some incredibly personal stories and poignant moments. I was flabbergasted by some of the openness and candor, as were some of the students – ultimately, they couldn’t believe how little they knew about people they had been sharing classes with for four years! As a result, the kids wanted more of that and they were a little impatient when I cut a presentation short because I wanted to do an avodah. For a while, I prepared a new avodah every week, but I never got around to using them. I had originally planned to do the parnass and then shift to avodot that would focus more on the spiritual. That seldom happened. And so I have to learn to use my time better. (Suggestions please?)

I am also determined to start the year differently. The kids were great, and there were times when you could hear a pin drop, the listening was so intense. But they also suffer from the generational disease of talking (yelling?) over one another, of jumping to tell how someone else’s story resonates with their own, and then sharing an aside with a classmate. In the future, I think I would do some sessions at the outset on active listening, in order to set the stage for the work ahead. (Anyone have any exercises?)

All in all, I think this work has enormous potential, as a guidance program, a religious guidance program and as a gamechanger to the heart, soul and mind of learning and teaching Torah together.

Download with student handouts:
Please help others by sharing how you used the resource, how you adapted it (link to your own version!) and what worked more or less well. You can also post questions that Lifnai Vlifnim staff or community members will try to respond to.

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