The Azrieli Papers - Saying Thanks: Dimensions of Gratitude


Source: Yeshiva University


“Saying Thanks: Dimensions of Gratitude” by Eliezer Schnall, PhD, Judy Sokolow, EdD, and Moshe Sokolow, PhD. is the latest of the Azrieli Papers, Yeshiva University – Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration’s ongoing series of monographs dedicated to the dissemination of the latest thinking in topics related to teaching and research in Jewish education.

After a brief introduction to the importance of incorporating positive psychology in schools, Dr. Schnall summarizes the research on the many benefits of instilling gratitude in children with a particular emphasis on how teaching gratitude in the Jewish religious classroom is essential due to its primacy in Jewish thought and practice. A practical and clear description of how gratitude interventions can be taught in a classroom setting is followed by a number of examples of how connections to this value can be integrated into lessons on the parasha and Jewish holidays.

Dr. Judy Sokolow discusses how the annual Thanksgiving program that she developed at the Ramaz Middle School incorporates many of the pedagogic techniques that can integrate the lessons of positive psychology and Jewish thinking on gratitude in an educational setting. Students are given an active role in preparing a Jewish text in which gratitude is emphasized. This cognitive approach is deepened by a more personal and emotion-driven strategy that asks students to share personal statements of gratitude to someone who has had a major impact on their lives. This program is a particularly good example of how integrating an academic approach with one that is more personal and emotionally driven can help a student more fully internalize values.

Jewish sources add unique insights and depth to our understanding of the central place that gratitude plays in a life informed by Jewish values, and Dr. Moshe Sokolow shares a variety of sources on Jewish approaches to gratitude. Drawing from a wide range of writings in the Torah, Midrash, Talmud, and siddur, Dr. Sokolow adds an additional layer of understanding that can help the educator more fully impart an informed appreciation of this important value to his or her students that is more comprehensively informed by a Judaic perspective.

By reviewing the relevant literature and developing practical educational approaches to teaching the all-important value of gratitude, the authors of this monograph have made an important contribution to the field of Jewish character education.

Updated: Sep. 11, 2019