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A Model for Using Diversity to Bridge Cultural Differences

January 11, 2012

by Dr. Hana Bor

 “Die!” That’s what it sounded like I shouted to my English-speaking students when they overwhelmed me one day with questions in our American Jewish classroom.

!די (Dai) is what I knew I was saying. It means “Enough! in Hebrew, the language I grew up speaking as an Israeli.

My students were shocked. I was confused by their reaction.

I asked why they look insulted. Then I explained what I meant and they took turns asking questions.

Eventually we understood each other and worked together.

That’s an example of a model we are building into our program of Master of Arts of Jewish Education (MA in Jewish Education) at Towson University in Maryland: recognizing diversity’s dangers and using diversity as a bridge rather than a barrier in education. We are working to bring new teachers into Jewish education, encourage professional development for veteran educators, and help develop a vital environment for day school, supplementary and informal Jewish education. Our students reflect their own diversity, coming from a variety of religious, educational and personal backgrounds.

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