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Livingston religious school gets tech smart
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Livingston religious school gets tech smart

Rabbi Geoffrey Spector remembers Rhoda Goodman as an “out-of-the-box thinker and lifelong learner.”

Goodman, who died in 2006, was an active member of Spector’s Temple Beth Shalom in Livingston and, for 15 years until 1990, an administrator at what is now JCC MetroWest in West Orange.

Spector and others who knew her agree she would have appreciated a gift to the synagogue made in her name by her husband Morris: new Smartboards along with two dozen iPads meant to bring the synagogue preschool and religious school deeper into the digital era.

On Feb. 12, Beth Shalom dedicated the new equipment at a gathering that included Morris Goodman and the couple’s children Martin, Jay, and Carol with their children, as well as synagogue friends and supporters.

“My wife was born much too early for technology, as was I,” said Morris in a phone conversation with NJJN. “But she really got comfortable with it and would always work with it. And that’s how kids are learning today. It fascinates me, and it just felt right” to donate the equipment in her name.

At the dedication, religious school director Leah Beker said she can already see students’ enthusiasm for the new devices.

“Using the most up-to-date technology continually generates excitement for learning among our students and enhances their experience,” she said.

Michael Newman, director of educational technology at the Golda Och Academy and a certified Smartboard trainer, played an instrumental role in preparing the Smartboard and iPads for use. Over the past 16 years, Newman has helped Beker implement her technological vision. During the dedication, Newman gave a demonstration of the many applications of the Smartboard technology — essentially a whiteboard that can communicate with computers — and showed how it has been integrated with the curriculum currently in use in the religious school.

Those gathered for the dedication had a chance to learn from teachers Naomi Alaluf and Rachel Friedman how iPad software is being used to teach younger students to read Hebrew. Beth Shalom’s assistant rabbi, Dan Dorsch, demonstrated how the iPads are being used to prepare b’nei mitzva students to lead religious services. Alef class students, directed by their teacher Sari Manor, played one of their favorite Hebrew matching games.

Spector said that Rhoda Goodman would have “relished the opportunity to see this type of modern technology in use in a Jewish classroom.”

He pointed out that Rhoda’s impact could be felt throughout the Jewish community. She served as associate director for 15 years of what was first known as the YM-YWHA of Essex County and later as the JCC of Metropolitan New Jersey.

“Rhoda always was the kind of person who had a smile on her face,” said congregation president Margie Wolfe. “After visiting Rhoda, I always felt uplifted.”

Also attending the dedication were Max Kleinman, executive vice president/CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ; past synagogue presidents; and Livingston’s deputy mayor, Michael Silverman.

“Rhoda has stayed very much alive within me these last seven-and-a-half years,” said Morris Goodman. “It felt good sharing this with other people.”

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