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Jewish Educators Bounce Forward, Not Back

What will Jewish education look and feel like when the trauma of this pandemic is finally over? Will religious school simply return to “normal”? And if it does, will it meet the needs of Atlanta’s students and families?

In the field of psychology, there’s a concept known as “Post-Traumatic Growth” (“PTG”) which proves that it’s possible to grow stronger, more driven, and more resilient, because of the trauma we face. Ultimately, it’s not the trauma itself that causes growth, but rather how individuals and organizations interpret and respond to it.

One path after trauma seeks only homeostasis, to restore balance and return to life as it once was. That might sound nice, but it would ignore the lessons we have learned throughout this challenging time and would not lead to progress.

There is also a path after trauma, that, with support and intentionality, can lead to meaningful transformation. PTG holds a very important idea: We don’t bounce back from challenges, we bounce forward.

Jewish educators can plan and strategize for the future we want to build beyond the present reality. But we cannot – and should not – simply bounce back to the ways of the past.

Jewish educators in Atlanta are using the framework of Post-Traumatic Growth to think about how we move ahead in Jewish education.

  • How can we view the current situation as both a trauma with consequences, and an opportunity to “reinvent” or improve on the status quo of Jewish education?
  • How can the pandemic serve as a catalyst for growth and change?

Leaning into creativity and learning from the successes and failures of the past 10 months, Jewish educators are focusing on new ways to meet the needs of Jewish families today. They’re embracing and exploring:

  • Educational Technology
  • Social-Emotional & Values-Based Learning
  • Relationship-Building
  • Family Learning & Engagement
  • New Places, Spaces and Times to Learn

From PTG we learn that individuals and organizations can achieve a higher level of functioning as a result of addressing and learning from trauma. With time, Atlanta’s Jewish learning, and Jewish community, can emerge stronger than ever.

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