Teacher shares experience with religion

Emily Allen

You may have seen her teaching Algebra II or Precalculus to juniors and seniors, or collecting passes during lunch. Yet Ms. Goldberg has a unique quality that sets her apart from her colleagues and the other faculty at BSM—she is Jewish in a predominately Catholic school.

Yet for the past twelve years as a member of the BSM community, her religion has given her the opportunity to grow, to learn and to teach about her faith and break the boundaries of religion.

Ms. Goldberg chose a Catholic school to teach at simply because, “they hired me…it didn’t really matter to me if it was Catholic or not,” said Ms. Goldberg. For her, religion did not have a role in her decision making; but rather, the prestigious reputation of BSM captured her attention: “it was an impressive school and I was impressed with the people who were interviewing me…[and] impressed with what they had to say,” said Goldberg.

As a teacher, Ms. Goldberg is accustomed to teaching her students, yet being Jewish in a Catholic school has given her the opportunity to be taught as well. “It’s made me learn a lot more about my own religion [because] I’m always being asked questions; to answer them I had to learn about Judaism,” said Ms. Goldberg. For Ms. Goldberg, the advantages of working at BSM extend beyond religion and center around the strong community that BSM offers; “it seems more like a community…a lot of teachers, deans and everybody seem to work together and care about the students here,” said Ms. Goldberg.

Yet her religious outlook is coupled with some disadvantages as well. “I am one of very few Jews here so sometimes it can get a little lonely,” said Ms. Goldberg. Moreover, religion has served as a barrier at times. “Sometimes I feel isolated but everyone is so caring that it doesn’t last long,” said Goldberg. For Ms. Goldberg, isolation caused by her faith is something she has experienced throughout her life; because she grew up in a chiefly Catholic society, her experience in BSM’s Catholic community is something she is accustomed to. “I’m so used to growing up in a society like that I’m used to it,” said Goldberg, which has helped her adjust into BSM’s Catholic environment.

In the classroom, Ms. Goldberg believes that religious affiliation has a very minor role. “There is not that much of a role but [rather] everyone seems to come from the same set of moral values,” said Goldberg. Yet she also believes in the strength of Catholic education, reinforcing her decision to teach in a Catholic community, “this Catholic education is outstanding…it gives students a good foundation,” said Ms. Goldberg.

As a Jew in a catholic school, Ms. Goldberg uses the classroom as an opportunity to inform students about different religions as well. In specific to her classroom, religion “is there but I don’t think it plays much of a role,” said Ms. Goldberg. As a teacher, Ms. Goldberg sees the value in educating students about Judaism to expand their knowledge and perspective. Also, because BSM is located near the Jewish community of St. Louis Park, it seems most appropriate for students to learn about a faith that is literally right next door. “Our school is located in a very Jewish area and kids should understand what they see. It’s important that kids ask questions and understand the outside community,” said Goldberg.

To incorporate this into the classroom, Ms. Goldberg engages her students in various Jewish traditions, like playing dreidel and eating matzah. Though playing the dreidel and eating matzah are very small glimpses into the Jewish faith, they serve as tools to a bigger picture, said Ms. Goldberg. “I think it’s important for kids to know about religion and culture…we live in such a global community that it’s important to know as much as possible,” said Ms. Goldberg.

emily allen, features editor