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My Grandfather’s Eyes

 

Isaac Fertman

Once upon a time a rabbi told me that once upon a time, being a rabbi was not a profession. That a rabbi, technically, was not a teacher but rather a student. People in a community would select a person they felt possessed a deep understanding of the torah and the talmud to help them learn how to be good Jews. They supported this rabbi and his family so that this rabbi had time to study on his own, and also to study together with them. Judaism is basically a book club. Jews read this one book, every year, year after year, (and a few others), and delve into its ideas as deeply as possible.

When my trainees graduate from the Alexander Alliance I tell them there is no need to be nervous about being an Alexander teacher. If nervous, I suggest they continue thinking of themselves simply as Alexander students, students who happen to have completed a training program, therefore possessing a deeper understanding of Alexander’s work than most people.

When people pay you, I tell them, they are not paying you to teach them, they are paying you so that you can study Alexander’s work on your own, and with them. Your students pay you to study along with you, to join you in study.

It is not your job to teach them. It is your job to create conducive conditions in which they can study and learn. It is their job to learn. It is your job to learn along with them. It is not your job to entertain them. It is your job to entertain yourself, and their job to entertain themselves. It is everyone’s job to be kind, respectful, and to do one’s best.

My grandfather, Isaac, on my father’s side, told me now long ago, when I was a little boy, that I should be proud of being a Kohen, a member of the priesthood, a far distant descendent of Aaron, brother to Moses. I had no idea what he was talking about but it sounded cool. I also had no idea why, when I looked into his beautiful eyes, I could see him holding back tears. He told me how, because he was a Kohen, his shtetl saved money and paid for him to go to school in a nearby town where he learned Hebrew. At sixteen, alone, he got on a ship and made his way to America.

Now I am the age of my grandfather when he told me I was a Kohen. Here I am, supported by others to study on my own, everyday, to write, to think out loud, to create opportunities where others can study along with me. I don’t think of myself as a professional, as having a career. I just have a life. I am paid to live my life as a student, to do research and to share my findings. Baruch Hashem.

Bruce Fertman

Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Very beautiful, Bruce.

    This is how I would like to perceive my work, at one point. I already had a glimpse of that, and being a teacher doesn’t feel like work. I’m just doing interesting and meaningful things.

    Glad to see you blogging again!

    Warmly Jacek

    Virus-free. http://www.avast.com

    On Mon, Mar 5, 2018 at 9:42 AM, THE ALEXANDER ALLIANCE INTERNATIONAL THE PEACEFUL BODY SCHOOL wrote:

    > Bruce Fertman posted: ” Once upon a time a rabbi told me that once upon a > time, being a rabbi was not a profession. That a rabbi, technically, was > not a teacher but rather a student. People in a community would select a > person they felt possessed a deep understanding o” >

    March 9, 2018
  2. Bruce – thank you, and thanks to your grandfather – for this. I love to look at my teaching as a continuation of studying, alongside, together with another. And studying on my own. This makes my work outside of lessons so much more meaningful.

    And just the other day I said to a friend that after a good lesson (taught), I feel as if I had had a really good lesson myself! Yes – agin and again I tell myself how lucky I am!

    March 5, 2018
  3. Jim, will be an honor to have you in my class and to see you at the Congress. Yes, aren’t we lucky to be AT teachers. All those lessons we get and people pay us!!! B.

    March 5, 2018
  4. Baruch Hashem, indeed, Bruce! As an Alexander teacher of 30 years myself, I’ve often observed and always appreciated knowing that I receive an Alexander lesson for each Alexander lesson that I teach. Your grandfather sounds like a wise and wonderful man.
    P.S. Also, I’m quite thrilled that I’m registered for a Continuous Learning Session with you at the 11th International AT Congress in Chicago this summer. I really look forward to meeting you there. Breathe well and be well.

    March 5, 2018

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