Students at Shalhevet High School know that Rabbi Abraham Lieberman will always encourage them to follow their interests. As Judaic studies teacher for grades 10-12, Rabbi Lieberman believes that written texts hold the key to greater understanding. His projects start with a simple reading of a given text, followed by as many questions as students can think of. When a sub-topic catches students' attention, Rabbi Lieberman encourages them to research the topic on their own, allowing for the self-mastery and discovery so important in learning. Students present their ideas and findings to the class and lead discussions with their peers. "Learning to comprehend and analyze Jewish texts can turn ordinary students into lifelong learners," says Rabbi Lieberman. "If all we do is teach and test and move on, we have not fulfilled what teaching Torah is all about. Being 'the people of the book' requires that we engage the book."
Rabbi Lieberman started college as a psychology major but switched to education after discovering his passion for teaching. Inspired by Dr. Susan R. Katz, founding principal of Shulamith High School in Brooklyn, Rabbi Lieberman began teaching in 1979. At Shalhevet he teaches six classes, including Tanach, Talmud and Jewish history. Rabbi Lieberman leads his students through historical analysis of primary sources like the first Jewish Siddurs, Haggadahs and newspapers printed in the Americas. His goal: to create interesting, informative and reflective lesson plans that inspire students and teach them to think on their own. He strives to make the texts relevant. "How do we turn an ancient text into a tool to teach us how to be better people and understand the meaning of life, our struggles, failures and accomplishments?" asks Rabbi Lieberman. "God builds an imperfect world; it becomes our job to make it more perfect."
Note: This biography was current at the time this educator received the Award