Interactive Program: “Triggers, Temptations, and Alternatives,” adapted from Public Conversations Project

Interactive Program: “Triggers, Temptations, and Alternatives,” adapted from Public Conversations Project. – Approximately 75 minutes

15 MINS Review and discuss: 10 Tips for Constructive Feedback from the Rambam by Daniel Roth.

8 MINS: Please recall an occasion when you tried to offer tochacha (or someone offered tochacha to you) when it didn’t go particularly well.

WRITE (approximately 5 minutes):
Please consider and write about the following aspects of the situation/s you’d like to explore:

  1. What was challenging for you?
  2. What was the personal trigger for you?
  3. How did the trigger affect you and the others involved?
  4. Toward what questionable responses were you drawn?
  5. Having studied the handout, how might you try to do it differently next time?

7 MINS Discuss: In pairs for approximately 3 minutes each. Focus on your awareness of what was difficult about this encounter, what was going on with you, and how you might like to do this differently the next time a similar occasion arises.

10 MINS Gather responses from the group: What went wrong in this conversation, from your perspective? What might you like to do differently next time?

20 MINS (If you think the group is ready for this): Invite people to turn back to their partners. Have partners decide who will go first.

5 MINS:  “Person #1” will be him or herself in this role play. “Person #2” will role play the part of his/her partner’s “difficult person” in the incident he/she described in the previous round. Person #1 will experiment with a different way to carry on the tochacha conversation, in line with Jewish principles of speech, and Person #2 responds in role.

3 MINS Debrief in dyads.

5 MINS Switch roles: Person #2 is him/herself and Person #1 role plays the difficult person in the incident his/her partner had described.

3 MINS Debrief in dyads.

10 MINS Debrief in full group:

  • What was different this time?
  • What was different about your intention and/or your speech?
  • What would you like to take away from this exercise for future difficult conversations in your life?

5 MINS Close: Teach the following text, emphasizing the far-reaching potential benefits of engaging in such difficult conversations in a constructive and sacred way.


About Amy Eilberg

Amy is the director of the Pardes Rodef Shalom (Pursuer of Peace) Communities Program, helping synagogues and Jewish organizations place the pursuit of peace in interpersonal relationships at the center of their communal mission. Amy is the first woman ordained as a Conservative rabbi by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Click here to read more.

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