Conversational Torah (CT) is a vision of teaching and pedagogy based on how rabbinic texts (Torah she'b'al Peh/תורה שבעל פה/oral Torah) create conversations between students
from different times and different places.
It is also a mix of educational resources, consulting packages, and online courses offered by Jeffrey Spitzer to help foster those conversations in today's classrooms, both virtual and in person.
Conversational Torah (CT) is a pedagogy that gives participants the tools—not just to participate—but to contribute to the ongoing process of Torah.
Whether online or live, CT moves group work from sharing, to analysis, to critique and to reevaluating one's prior conceptions and beliefs. Sharing creates hevrutah/חברותא/fellowship.
CT means that there is a Torah—best practices—for the art of disciplined discussion wherever it happens. This includes the use and critique of evidence, active listening, and fostering curiosity.
When we design or evaluate a curriculum, or build or teach an online course, the hallmark of CT is learning and responding to your particular needs.
The genre map illustrates the relationships of different documents of Rabbinic literature with explanatory rollovers and links.
A thematic and spiralled history curriculum based on primary sources addressing essential questions of Jewish peoplehood.
Jewish texts model and foster healthy discussion about Israel within the Jewish community. A new course on our Moodle platform.
A curriculum and teacher's guide on the history of conversion to Judaism and Jewish identity, funded by the Shalom Hartman Institute.
"Readings in Masekhet Berakhot", one of several online courses offered for Hebrew College's Graduate School of Education.
A searchable timeline and map of Jewish history with images and identifications, designed for use with A History of Jewish Peoplehood.
A skills-based course on leadership for high school juniors using case-studies and Jewish texts to explore leadership and adaptive work.
A groundbreaking tool for documenting a middle school Rabbinic literature curriculum, produced for the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy.
JSkyway provided professional development to educators in Jewish schools. Funded by the Nash and AviCHAI Foundations and part of JFLmedia.
Jeff Spitzer is a superb mentor, a gifted, creative, and reflective educator, a brilliant curriculum designer, and a great mentsch. He cares deeply about every student and teacher he works with and works relentlessly to help them develop their best selves. I write with profound gratitude from direct personal experience.
I worked closely with Jeff in my role as Teacher Educator at Gann Academy. He was instrumental in assisting teachers to improve their teaching practice, helping students doing more of the “work” and teachers doing less lecturing. Jeff supported Gann teachers, and will be able to support students of his online classes and schools who hire him as a curriculum developer and instructional designer.
Jeff is the most hardworking curriculum writer I know. He is an exceptionally innovative teacher, employing digital resources and authentic assessments. He empowers students to argue and interact with one another imaginatively. He engages students in critical thinking about classical texts and personal relevance without leaving any student behind. His scholarship matches any first class university academic.
Jeff's passion for Judaism and teaching jumps off every page of his extremely accessible curricula. I taught his introductory Rabbinics curriculum to students at the American Hebrew Academy. This course, and his history course which my daughters took, were like none I've encountered elsewhere. Jeff combines skills for independent text-study, engaging and relevant content, memorable projects, and the opportunity to investigate real-world issues in their lives.
It is rare to encounter someone who brings a passion for teaching, a profound understanding of the content and an ongoing commitment to resist complacency through the creation and re-creation of the learning experience. Jeff Spitzer is just such a one, and he is a treasure for his students, colleagues and anyone who has the privilege to work with, and alongside, him.
Jeff was my curriculum consultant at Tarbut vTorah community day school. Jeff helped me tease out the deep messages of the text and find the relevance of these texts to young people’s lives. With his help, I created a dynamic toshba curriculum which impacted over 500 students. Those students all benefited from Jeff’s depth of Jewish knowledge and educational creativity.
Jeff Spitzer is an exceptional educator. At the American Hebrew Academy, Jeff was the indispensable man on campus. He was a popular teacher and mentor to the students, a tireless creator of content used by several academic departments, and a master educational technologist. The students, faculty, and administration at AHA sought his help constantly. Jeff always came through.
Jeff is one of the most creative educators I have worked with in my career. His capacity to craft lessons and teacher guide materials and his facility to combine deep text based learning with interesting student activities are outstanding. Jeff was an early technology adopter and understands well the value that tech tools can play in various educational settings.
I can say unequivocally that Jeffrey is one of the most talented and creative teachers whom I have ever met. He engages a wide range of students in the study of Talmud and other Rabbinic literature. I recommend Jeffrey highly; he is way ahead on the techniques for successful on-line learning and as a curriculum developer.