There are countless articles on the skills that youth need in the 21st century and, as parents and workers with children know, these skills are essential. However, that doesn’t mean that people of all ages should not develop or increase these skills. The list and discussion below from Miriam Chilton and Liz Hirsch was posted on ejewishphilanthropy.com. They add that important “Jewish twist” to a special set of skills.
The skills listed are from filmmaker Tiffany Shlain’s documentary titled The Adaptable Mind. The five skills are: curiosity, creativity, initiative, multi-disciplinary thinking, and empathy. Chilton and Hirsch remind us that each of these teachings exist in the Torah, Talmud, Midrash and our liturgy. Here are a few Jewish connections to the skills:
- 1. Curiosity — Torah is the gateway to infinite learning and discovery. Learning independently, as well as with, and from, others is considered essential. The Talmudic process of studying with a friend is well known. The chavruta experience enhances our learning — learning alone is good but discussion/argument/challenging interpretation comes from communication with others.
- 2. Creativity — Hiddur mitzvah, meaning “beautification of the commandment,” stems from the idea that one can perform a commandment… simply… or if we employ creativity, we can make it more meaningful. Approaching any experience or problem with creativity and intention expands the potential.
- 3. Multi-disciplinary thinking — The Torah was prescient in teaching how strength, beauty and meaning can be achieved through crowdsourcing multiple talents and viewpoints. This is a great idea from the past for today — we need others to bring all the talents to the table for any experience.
- 4. Empathy — We learn the concept of B’tzelem Elohim, teaching us that humanity is created in the image of God. We must see ourselves in every person to be a part of this world.
- 5. Initiative — As the Jewish people, our initiative and courage are much of what has helped us survive. Abraham, Moses, Aaron — the list goes on! We must take the first step and encourage others to do the same.
As we continue growing and challenging ourselves to gain new skills, let’s put these five on the list to work on this year.
Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is the director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.