Effective communication with those who hold different opinions and ideologies is a superpower in today’s world. To advance students’ dialogue skills, Ma’ayanot’s Humanities Department, in partnership with the Civic Spirit organization, is launching a new program for juniors and seniors: “Talking Texts and Building Bridges: Ma’ayanot’s faculty-student civic dialogue initiative.” The group will be an in-school community of learners who will learn how to have constructive, thoughtful, text-based dialogue about complex civic issues.
Samantha Kur, English department chair, and Chani Rotenberg, history department chair, are spearheading this initiative, and participating faculty include Tammie Rapps (English), Rabbi Donny Besser (Talmud and Judaic Studies enrichment), and Rabbi Jay Goldmintz (Tanach and Jewish Philosophy). “This is an opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration,” explained Ms. Kur. “The goal is not to debate, nor to come to agreement, but to attain understanding of differing perspectives.” Added Rabbi Goldmintz, “In Sefer Mishlei we learn that the Torah’s ways are pleasant and all its paths are peace, which is an aspiration even when we don’t see things the same way as others do.”
Senior Maya Chen is excited to participate. She said, “I hope to interact with and learn from student leaders and teachers with diverse perspectives, take responsibility for my civic duty and educate myself about the social and civic issues in my community and in the world.” Added junior Yael Kranz, “It’s an incredible opportunity to discuss interesting topics. I believe that it is crucial for students like myself to talk about our obligation as a country to the rest of the world, and our personal obligations to the community in which we live.” Senior Rebecca Rappaport agreed, “This is an exciting new opportunity for us students to learn how to navigate conversations about difficult and controversial subjects, and I hope to develop new skills in order to have more meaningful discussions.”