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Welcome to the blog section of Room613.
Here we'll be sharing some thoughts about Jewish homeschooling,
out of our unique experiences and perspectives. Kids are welcome to blog too!
We look forward to an open exchange of ideas.


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"YR"

These are the weekly updates that go out to members at the end of each week, all about what we've learned in all subjects. Take a look! (Some have been edited to maintain the privacy of our students.)

November 2011 Posts

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News from Room613 (Weekly Newsletter Archive)
Blog Entry

Parshas Vayaira “From Pong to Facebook...a Tribute to the Homeschooling Mom”

Thursday, November 10th 2011 @ 3:36 PM

Contents:
• Essay - “From Pong to Facebook...a Tribute to the Homeschooling Mom”
• This Week in Classes
• This Sunday - Steinsaltz Global Day of Jewish Learning...with special guest Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz!
• The Weekly Parsha - Vayaira
• Other announcements

As we settle into our homeschooling groove in Room613, during this more relaxed stretch between Tishrei and Chanuka, more children are joining us all the time, and classes seem to get better and better. You are welcome to join us anytime!

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Steinsaltz Global Day of Jewish Learning

Room613 is very excited about the upcoming Steinsaltz Global Day of Jewish Learning. This year very may well be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The venerable Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz himself has chosen Room613 to be the community to visit for the Global Day of Jewish Learning!

The Rav is going to be joining us live from his center in Jerusalem, to learn, study and interact with us. You will be able to ask questions, and learn from the one of the true Torah sages of our generation.

This program is free, and you are invited. Please set aside this Sunday, November 13th at 2:30 PM Eastern Time to attend this sure-to-be-memorable event.

Space is very limited. Dont wait!

http://www.theglobalday.com/pledge-to-learn-on-november-13th/

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In Classes This Week

Hanhagos Tzadikim:

We began learning the teachings of the Chozeh of Lublin. We found out that he fell out of a window on Simchas Torah, and died a year later on Tisha B'Av.


Chumash:

We continue studying parshas Vayeira. This week's parsha! Why did Sarah laugh? and why did she then deny it to HaShem? Very strange indeed!


Halacha:

We are learning about everything from correcting bad midos to getting ready for Shabbos.

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“From Pong to Facebook... a Tribute to the Homeschooling Mom.”

“In the ’70s, home schooling was still against the law; it wasn’t until 1993 that it became legal in all 50 states.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/13/magazine/my-parents-were-home-schooling-anarchists.html?_r=1& hpw

Years ago, I wrote, in Natural Jewish Parenting magazine, about my imagined scenario of being taken out of public high school and put into a yeshiva (I grew up near Monsey NY).I often have a similar fantasy about being homeschooled. How would I have reacted at the age of 13 or 14, to the question of “Would you like to stop going to school?”

“ARE YOU KIDDING!?!”

In the 1970’s and 1980’s, when I grew up, anyone who wanted information on, well, anything, had to sit down, write a letter, mail it, and then wait... for....a.....response. (Remember those days? Nowadays, if google takes more than a few seconds to return several hundred thousand responses, we get impatient. My, how things have changed! We’ve become much less patient, for one thing.)

And look how we are homeschooling these days, thirty years later; in real-time, in a virtual classroom! This extreme may be the most cutting-edge, innovative, and creative option. (It is!) But even if you just like to download files from Chinuch.org, let’s not lose sight of how marvelous the technology is. It never ceases to boggle my mind. I feel truly fortunate that I have been around to see the innovations of both “Pong” and of Facebook.

As I have become a homeschooling father, I imagine my feelings and motivations to continue to homeschool may resemble that of other many fathers. I have sometimes commented, only half-jokingly, that Room613 is “revenge” for all of my negative school experiences.  The father of the author of a recent Times article on homeschooling (see link below) expressed a similar sentiment. I suppose I am vicariously getting back at my old school by choosing to homeschool my children.

Or, as expressed so well in Ivan Illich’s classic book, “De-Schooling Society:”

“...we can depend on self-motivated learning instead of employing teachers to bribe or compel the student to find the time and the will to learn...”

http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/Deschooling/chap6.html

Although I try to remain enthusiastic, positive, and excited about homeschooling, I also have occasional feelings of doubt and skepticism, particularly when it comes to my own children. I have heard from mothers who wanted to homeschool, yet their husbands did not want to. (This can result in a lot of friction. See my recent essay about resolving creative tension in the family.) It’s perhaps a male thing.

Often, when I am starting to feel this way, something will come along and help me to reorient my perspective, and get back on track. This week, there were two such things:

1) I read my wife Yael’s homeschooling blog, and was, as usual, inspired by her description of her homeschooling exploits. Which, of course means...my children, being homeschooled across the street from where I write this! (I am often not aware of the full scope of what she is doing with them until I read her blog.)

2) The second catalyst was a very interesting article in the NY Times (tinyurl.com/6rjg2ec) about a pioneering homeschooling family. It was written by Margaret Heidenry, who was a young girl being homeschooled in the 1970’s. (She is now a screenwriter.)

She writes: “What my parents did embrace were countercultural values.”

Do you embrace countercultural values? I do, and always have. I would venture to guess that if you are homeschooling, then you probably do, too. Because, let’s face it, although millions are homeschooling, it is still considered radical by many to not simply follow the status quo, and plunk your kid down in school.

And good for you. It can admittedly be hard sometimes to reconcile countercultural values with certain Torah ideals, and/or some of the people who keep them. But this cognitive dissonance is part of the challenge of being an independently-thinking observant Jew in the 20th century.

One of the points made by the Ms. Heindenry in the article is that most of the homeschooling duties, from her recollection of her childhood, fell on her mother’s shoulders.

It seems that no matter how you slice it, homeschooling often becomes the mother’s responsibility. One main reason may be because the father is probably out of the house all day at work, and simply isn’t around. There may be other reasons as well.

When I first created Room613, I was teaching in the house, with my kids sometimes logging in to my classes from a computer in another room. I could easily walk into the kitchen for lunch, and be around the kids. I was in the house, and around all day long, for better or worse. After a flood on Pesach, (which I wrote about at the time) I ended up moving Room613 out of the house and into an office. In that location, I left the house early, and didn’t get back until the end of the day. I often left the house before my kids were awake.

So, I have worked both in the house, and several miles down the road in an office, and can relate to both situations. Right now, I am somewhere in the middle: I work out of an office...but my office is across the street! So, while I technically don’t work out of a home office, I am very accessible. I can pop in at lunch if I choose, and my kids frequently stop by the office.

One thing has remained consistent over the past thirty years, and in truth, much longer than that. While we Dads may be in charge of “Tea with parents, yoga and Spanish...” it is the unflagging dedication of homeschooling moms that keeps our children growing and learning. I see that every time I pop in for a few minutes at lunch. While I am the Totty, and that is not to be underestimated, mom runs the house.

So, Jewish Homeschooling Moms everywhere, kudos to all of you! You are to be congratulated. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, and yasher koach!

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The Weekly Parsha

In Kabbala, Sodom and Gomorra embody the fallen version of the lights of Tohu, intense and single-minded divine energies that cannot be confined to vessels and cannot coexist with one another. This single-mindedness is reflected in the selfishness of Sodom. Thus, Sodom and Gomorra had to be destroyed entirely, just as the world of Tohu was destroyed so that the world of Tikun, the world of less intense light and more concrete vessels, could be built out of its ruins.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe teaches here that the ultimate experience, though, is when the infinite lights of Tohu are contained in the finite vessels of Tikun. Thus, when Ezekiel prophesies that in the Messianic era these cities will be restored, he is also referring to the lights of Tohu, which will finally be integrated into the vessels of Tikun.

From the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe; adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky

www.kabbalaonline.org/

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Our Facebook page turns out to be where we are posting a lot of info. Please visit us there -

http://tinyurl.com/3zqvwby

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Yael's Blogs

For my wife Yael's unique take on homeschooling and parenting, please visit her blogs:

  • Room613 homeschool blog, "A Learning Experience," featured on our homepage (www.room613.net).

Good Shabbos!

Yosef Resnick

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