Moral Education



April 2017

What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”  Victor Frankl

Boker Tov and welcome again to our growing community of educators in dialogue about what we have termed moral education, though we are aware this phrase doesn’t quite capture the work of the delicate conversations many of us are having in our educational settings with learners of all ages this year.

This month we begin with an inspirational article by Michelle Shapiro Abraham on how as she suggests, we might heal the world and ourselves through teaching a joyful Judaism.  We’ve also included information on a fall conference sponsored by the Association for Moral Education, additional curricular materials on middot (by request), and helpful resources from the Marin-based organization, Beyond Differences.

Jewish LearningWorks has begun to think about launching a professional learning network on this topic for the coming school year.  We anticipate the network will meet monthly, possibly including in-person and virtual meetings, depending on geography.  We may also offer an intensive day of learning on this theme with a guest scholar.  I am eager for your feedback on whether such a network is of interest, and what elements would be most important to you as we begin to design it.  Please do be in touch with your thoughts.

Don’t forget to visit our site to explore the last several months of resources are collected

If you want to be removed from this list at any time, let us know.  And if you have received this as a forward and would like to be added, contact Dana Sheanin.

What Exactly Do We Mean By Happiness – an article by Michelle Shapiro Abraham

Association for Moral Education – a conference opportunity

The AME provides an international forum for the interdisciplinary study of the moral and ethical dimensions of human development and education.  In particular, their annual conference this November will focus on “Evolving Ethics, Moral Education and the Struggle for Democracy” - a topic many of us are thinking about.  Click here for more details on the conference.

Behrman House – on middot

For those of you working with students on middot, Behrman House offers a useful guidebook available for purchase.

Beyond Differences – ending social isolation

A Marin County based organization, working in schools to help middle and high school students end social isolation.  In particular note their “Know Your Classmates” initiative, cosponsored with Islamic Networks Group, and their “No One Eats Alone” initiatives.

March 2017

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela

As Yom HaShoa approaches next month our focus is on helping learners understand Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust in the context of today’s world.

Please continue to send along the resources you are finding most helpful so that we can share them, and don’t hesitate to ask for particular types of materials that would be useful for us to identify.  We’ve also now added a page on our site to collect those we have previously shared here:

If you want to be removed from this list at any time, please let us know.  And if you have received this as a forward and would like to be added, please contact Dana Sheanin –

(For younger children)
(Curricular materials organized by age group)

(An article from this month’s EJPhilanthropy on how millennials experience Anti-Semitism)
(A lesson plan on contemporary Anti-Semitism and youth for high school)
(Educational modules for older students, based on a podcast series)

(A comprehensive guidebook from the ADL on this topic)
(Lesson plans organized by age group, again from the ADL)

(Lesson plans created by Not In Our Town, organized by age group)

February 2017

My investment of time, as an educator, in my judgment, is best served teaching people how to think about the world around them. Teach them how to pose a question. How to judge whether one thing is true versus another."  Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist


We are grateful to those of you who have begun to identify and share high quality resources for talking with students about Jewish values and the turbulent times we are living in.  With your support, each month we will be sending a few new tools your way.  If you use them, we’d love to know how you used them, and what you learned.  This will be an evolving communication, and your feedback is important.

If you want to be removed from this list at any time, please let me know.  And if you have received this as a forward and would like to be added for future emails, please email –

Wishing you and your students strength and peace. 


9Adar Project: A Jewish Week of Constructive Conflict
The Rodef Shalom Communities Program engages North American synagogues and other Jewish institutions in the study and practice of the mitzvah of redifat shalom (pursuit of peace) and the art of mahloket l’shem shamayim (sacred and constructive disagreement). Through Jewish text study, training in conflict resolution skill and development of middot (qualities of soul), the program focuses on conflict resolution in individual, family and community life.

For free, downloadable resources and toolkits designed for synagogues, teachers and schools and targeted to varying age groups:


Mussar for Children– For school children ages 3-8, nine individual middot curriculum packets can be purchased for $399.

Mussar for Children encourages an inquiry based approach in which cooperative, child-initiated learning promotes the children's spiritual and ethical development. The program provides a starting point for creating awareness and encouraging reflection and on-going discovery.  Materials include classroom activity packets, parent materials and more:


The Values and Voices Project
American Values Religious Voices: 100 Days. 100 Letters. is a national nonpartisan campaign bringing together a diverse group of scholars to write letters to the Trump administration articulating core American values that are rooted or reflected in various faith traditions.  The 100 scholars are Christian, Jewish, Buddist, Hindu, and Sikh representing the full spectrum of each faith tradition.  The letters they have written are available here: