Julie Oxenhandler is a Teach For America alumna and is currently teaching in Baltimore. She participated in the 2011 REALITY Israel Experience for Teach For America corps members program. Julie recently used a Make It Happen Project micro grant for REALITY Israel alumni to host a her first Shabbat dinner for 19 teachers.
As a teacher, Friday afternoons mark the start of many occasions: the weekend, a time to catch up on grading or lesson planning, or simply a night where you go to bed, knowing that you can sleep in the next day. Many of us, deeply absorbed in our work weeks, see the weekend as a time to get caught up or ahead on work.
We are less likely to use our time for rest with the alluring nature of being overly prepared for the week ahead. Thankfully, Shabbat gently reminds us of the true purpose of our time away from work—to rest, to reconnect and to rejuvenate our minds and bodies.
This is the beauty of Shabbat. It allows us to set aside intentional time to pause from our hectic routines, enjoy each other’s company and think not about what we are going to do next, but what we have already done. So often in life, it seems that we are swept into moving forward before we have truly stopped to appreciate and take in what has just happened.One Friday in January marked a special occasion for me—the first Shabbat Dinner I ever hosted on my own. I was blessed with the company of many close friends, all teachers or former teachers, working toward a collective goal of improving educational opportunities for students in Baltimore. As I dashed around my apartment attempting to simultaneously cook, arrange furniture and get dressed, I thought about all of the work that I and my fellow teachers do each week. We invest so much energy into the actual work, there is little energy left over for reflection.
Often, I find myself operating in this mindset. Friday comes and I am eagerly composing a list of the many things that I need to accomplish to make the upcoming week run smoothly. I have been thinking about this idea a lot—how much more productive, effective and efficient would I be in the classroom and in my personal life if I dedicated more time to evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the week that has just concluded, rather than putting all of energy into the week up ahead?
In our classrooms, teachers regularly feel the pressure to continue to move forward through curriculum regardless of the true level of mastery that students have reached. I am thankful for Shabbat, for friends and family, and friends that have become family, who remind me why we must take moments of rest as seriously as moments of work.
Shabbat serves as the constant reminder to prioritize moments of rest as highly as moments of work and opportunity. It is in the moments where we change our routines that we have the greatest potential for revelation. It is in the moments where we change our routines that we can truly maximize our full potential.
- Creating a Tradition of Special Foods
- Rosetta Stone Hebrew in Israel
- Shabbat on the Reservation
- Standing on Masada
- Hannah Senesh, Golda Meir and Now Kate Bornstein
- Crossing Boundaries
- Reflections on the Kivun Intensive
- REALITY in the News
- REALITY Israel Experience: Update 1
- REALITY Israel Experience: Update 2
- REALITY Israel Experience: Update 3
- REALITY Israel Experience: Update 4
- REALITY Israel Experience: Update 5
- REALITY 2011 Photos
- Teach For America and Teach First Israel Join Forces to Build a Global Movement to End Educational Inequity