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January 2022

Contemporary Poetry As A Sacred Jewish Text

Jake Marmer
Education & Programming Director
Bronfman Fellowship Stanford, CA
Learning poetry as sacred text can infuse educational spaces with intimacy and communal connection.

The goal of this pedagogy is, above all, to rekindle our communal relationship with the sacred, to rediscover sacredness on the ground that it is inviting to all who are willing to participate. While the impact of this pedagogy may appear on the surface difficult to measure – can you measure one’s encounter with the sacred via a Google form? – and its effects can seem impossible to capture, in my experience, one of the clearest indicators of the pedagogy’s efficacy is the level of profound connections built by those involved in the learning process. These texts touch us in personal ways, and invite the kind of trust and openness that is less common for educational spaces and is more expected of intimate, communal ones. In our age of increased alienation and loneliness, of ruptured connections, this experience is invaluable. Profound connections to the self, others, and the divine – isn’t that what the encounter with the sacred is all about?

Jake is a poet, performer, and educator. He is the author of three poetry collections, including, most recently, “Cosmic Diaspora” (Station Hill Press, 2020). He is the Education Director of the Bronfman Fellowship and a Contributing Editor at Tablet Magazine. Born in the provincial steppes of Ukraine, he moved to the U.S. as a teenager. He now lives in the Bay Area with his partner and two children.


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