A post from Hannah Bloom Hirschberg, the Chicago Program Coordinator

Posted on August 14, 2018

IMG_7892Mindfulness in the Park

“Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom” – Viktor Frankl

Having studied development from a variety of angles in April, we sought to use mindfulness as a means to allow us to become even more aware of how we can build relationships with others and implement routines and programs which respond to each individual’s needs.  Rabbi Sam Feinsmith, of the Institute of Jewish Spirituality (jewishspirituality.org), led us in learning about the mindfulness literacies. Using a wide array of Jewish texts, from ancient to contemporary, Rabbi Sam facilitated a deep conversation about how our own reactions and impulses can be brought into focus.  This focus then allows us not only to be more intentional in our conversations and actions, but also to help us see others in a more complete way and build programs that meet their needs even more fully.

Based on the feedback of the Fellows from April, we implemented Havvayot, Experiential Learning Labs, at this seminar.  These labs give us time to connect our learning to practice and to our own contexts.  We were fortunate to welcome Robyn-Lee Rabin, a JECELI Chicago Cohort 1 Fellow, to lead one of the labs.  Robyn-Lee shared how after learning with Rabbi Sam during her time in the JECELI cohort she had gone on to implement mindfulness practices in her preschool room at the Ginsburg Early Childhood Center of Solomon Schechter School.  The Fellows appreciated seeing how this practice can develop over time and have a meaningful impact on classroom practice.

All of this learning was certainly enhanced by our setting.  The seminar was held at the Garfield Park Conservatory, a historic Chicago Park District location.  Situating the seminar in an environment so full of natural inspiration truly provided inspiration for a day of learning and mindful appreciation.

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