Recipient: Rabbi Rafi Lipner
Number of years teaching: 6
Subject: Grades 10 and 12 Rabbinics
Inspiration/Motivation for being a Teacher of Excellence:
While deciding about what to do vocationally, Rabi Lipner recalls a mentor in an educational program that left him with a “high feeling” at the end of the course. He realized that teaching would give him a worthwhile career, one of influence, of ‘seeing lightbulbs’, of making an impact on how students will approach family, vocation, choices, prayer…life!
Students energize Rabbi Lipner and he finds teaching exhilarating. He loves to challenge them to think and to instill in them a desire to learn. He said, “the more I see that they want more, the more I can give.” He enjoys forming relationships with his students by spending time outside the classroom. Rabbi Lipner believes teaching allows him to be a person of influence. He loves his subject matter and allows his passion to overflow to his students.
Noam and Jordan, students in Rabbi Lipner’s Grade 12 Rabbinics wrote:
Anyone who has ever had Rav Lipner could tell you that there is something extraordinary about him. As a teacher he has a special ability to take intense ideas of enormous depth and communicate them in a way that the entire class can understand. He turns a regular classroom into a centre of self-growth and self-discovery. At the same time he always keeps a light mood with his funny quirks and his hilarious self-deprecating humour.
In his class we learned one of the most important lessons about learning itself. Learning is not fact filing. Learning requires thought, it requires the mind to formulate ideas before spitting them back out onto a piece of paper, and most importantly real learning requires experiencing the idea. Not only did Rav Lipner do a brilliant job of introducing the unit on prayer, but he enabled us to experience what prayer is and understand its essence on an emotional level, before beginning our intellectual search into its meaning.
For a teacher to truly leave an impression on his student he must make a conscious decision to dedicate himself to this task. It is clear that Rav Lipner has made this choice. He is there with us every Friday night to bring Shabbat, and makes the long walk down from his house ever shabbos morning to lead our service. He invites us to the House to hear spectacular speakers and motivates us to change our lives with his profound ideas. He is someone who is approachable, someone you can talk to. He is warm and friendly and always willing to offer help, advice or just to schmooze.