Section archive - Formal Education
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On a recent Monday morning on the Upper West Side, a group of about 20 men and women sat in pairs, hunched over enormous Jewish legal tomes and dissecting their contents in animated conversation. It was a typical scene at Hadar, an egalitarian yeshiva that has run full-time study programs for young adults in New York City since 2007. Less typical was the mundane topic of their study: whether it is permissible to use a dishwasher for both meat and milk dishes in successive cycles. It’s the kind of question typically asked of synagogue rabbis.
Updated: Jan. 13, 2020
A long-standing assumption at the heart of synagogue Hebrew education is that if our children learned to read English, it should not be that hard for them to learn to read Hebrew fluently. Yet, even with four years or more of “Hebrew school,” young learners struggle with prayers and blessings. The culprit is often identified as lessened days/hours of learning time or competing family priorities. But, consistent and well-replicated reading research offers us another possibility – countless studies conclude that reading fluency is “… a by-product of having instant access to most or all of the words on the page.”
Updated: Jan. 08, 2020
NETA/Bishvil Ha-Ivrit was initiated in 1999 at the urging of AVI CHAI Foundation Trustee Dr. Ruth Wisse, with early implementation by Senior Program Officer Rachel Mohl Abrahams. It created a comprehensive Hebrew language curriculum and offered ongoing professional development for Jewish day school teachers in grades 7-12. Founding Director Hilla Kobliner came with a stellar reputation as a consummate Hebrew language expert and master pedagogue. An expert and dedicated staff was stationed at NETA/Bishvil Ha-Ivrit’s North American home at Hebrew College in Boston. The staff has planted and nurtured the seeds that have made the program flourish and bloom in the years since.
Updated: Dec. 11, 2019
At Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools, we decided to provide schools with a panoramic view of the field, presenting the range of areas in which day school administrators turn in order to work on improving their Hebrew programs. The result, “Thought Leadership: Hebrew Education,” presents six levers that schools use to strengthen Hebrew learning: staff, time, pedagogy, curriculum, assessment and mission. Each of these areas are ripe for reflection and growth, with new programs and initiatives arising year by year.
Updated: Oct. 07, 2019
This study set out to design and implement an approach to Tanakh education that would help students become expert decoders of the Biblical Hebrew text as they became expert interpreters of it. The goal, following existing, research-based best instructional practices from literacy, was to create a curriculum in which language skills and meaning making were intimately connected. This paper describes the curriculum and its implementation.
Updated: Oct. 02, 2019
‘Marching at the Speed of the Slowest Man’: The Facilitation and Regulation of Student Autonomy in a Pluralist Jewish Day School
Based on interviews and focus groups with parents, students and senior staff, this article investigates how England’s one pluralist Jewish secondary school has, in contrast, attempted to accommodate various forms of Jewish practice and facilitate students’ agency to determine their Jewish identities as desired. It reveals that students enjoy opportunities to actively negotiate Judaism, but that their autonomy is not without limits, and issues inherent to pluralism exist in executing an ethos accommodative of diverse, personalized expressions of Jewishness.
Updated: Sep. 25, 2019
Israel will include study of the persecution of North African Jewry under the Nazis as part of mandatory history curriculum in high schools. Study of the Holocaust as a historical subject was removed from the mandatory section of the national matriculation exam four years ago by then-education minister Shai Piron, though teachers were allowed to assign the Holocaust as a research project. Academics and history teachers publicly criticized the move. Former education minister Naftali Bennett reinstated the subject on the bagrut matriculation exam shortly before he was fired from his position in early June by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Updated: Sep. 11, 2019
This exploratory case study examined how two teachers used a comparative approach to teach genocide histories in a Holocaust Literature elective course. Through interviews and observations, we studied how the teachers guided students in comparing genocides as well as how they used survivor testimonies in their instruction.
Updated: Aug. 27, 2019
A Sacred Language or the Language of the Bible: A Curricular Study of Jewish Hebrew Bible Instruction
This curriculum studies article uncovers how ideological commitments often, without acknowledgment, determine instruction. Through a comparison of two popular Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) curricula, both focused on the same subject, one emerging out of a fundamentalist religious worldview and the other a progressive, modernist religious worldview, curricular nuances are explored and theorized. Ultimately, this article argues that small differences in instruction serve to shape radically different conceptions of religious activity.
Updated: Aug. 06, 2019
When the Truth Is Not What Actually Happened: The Epistemology of Religious Truth in Orthodox Jewish Bible Study
This paper uses data from Jewish religious chumash (Bible) study to examine how students’ conceptions of biblical truth are grounded in the particular forms of chumash study they engage in. Using data from clinical interviews with Orthodox Jewish Bible students, we argue that, in relation to the biblical text, questions of truth are functionally meaningless; that is, they are irrelevant to the implicit epistemology embedded in the practice of chumash study. Because of this, students were unable to coherently answer questions about the truth-value of the biblical text, even while engaging in sophisticated reasoning about its literary character. This has implications for how religious schools and teachers approach religious study of traditional texts.
Updated: Jul. 17, 2019