Rinse and Repeat
I think we’ve all had experiences in life with vicious cycles. We hit a momentary lull in the day, so we eat something sugary for a quick burst of energy, but then, two hours later, we crash. So, off we go, again, to eat something sugary for that quick burst, and two hours later, crash again. Rinse and repeat.
However, there is also an opposite state of being known as a virtuous cycle, where positive experiences feed into and promote each other.
In the Jewish educational world, the most common and pernicious vicious cycle involves Jewbarrassment. Jewbelong coined the term. They define it as:
The feeling you get (may include sweating, shortness of breath or mild panic) when you think you should know something Jewish, but you don’t. Also occurs when you’ve said or done something Jewish “wrong.” We’ve all been there.
So how does Jewbarrassment happen? Let’s say you’ve been invited to Shabbat dinner tonight. For many Jews, it’s a no-brainer, but for many others who might just light two candles and eat ḥallah, a traditional Shabbat dinner might evoke a little sweating, shortness of breath or mild panic. But you go anyway because the host was so lovely about inviting… So when the host turns to you to indicate it’s time for netilat yadayim and you don’t know what that is… you’re JewBarrassed!
This is probably not your experience. Maybe you know what netilat yadayim is and how to do it. But you can imagine that someone who doesn’t might not get over the mortification and choose never to expose themselves to Jewbarrassment again. This vicious cycle only has one turn.
JewBelong’s (and ADRABA’s and Hillel and and and) mission is “to end JewBarrassment so that people can focus on the good parts.” JewBelong does it with a very smart and cheeky website. ADRABA does it through blended-Jewish learning and MAJESTY.
At ADRABA, we’ve designed our Jewish studies curriculum to accomplish many goals – one of the most prominent is replacing that vicious cycle with a virtuous one.
It all starts with Jewish literacy and Yiddishkeit. Yiddishkeit is about a feeling of connection to a millennia-old tradition and other Jews. It’s all about heart and feeling. But it’s not enough. Jewish Literacy is all about knowing and doing Jewish stuff individually and with other Jews. So we will spend a lot of time learning Jewish stuff, learning about how to do Jewish stuff and creating meaningful opportunities to do Jewish stuff.
That way, when the situation arises, you can do the Jewish stuff. And if you can do all kinds of Jewish stuff, you’ll probably feel more comfortable in all kinds of Jewish settings … which brings you into contact with all kinds of Jews … which reinforces your Jewish learning… which makes it desirable to do even more Jewish stuff because it gives you other opportunities in other Jewish settings to do even more Jewish stuff with even more Jews…
Rinse and repeat.
… and Shabbat shalom!