Section archive - Trends in Jewish Education
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The passing of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks zt”l leaves thousands if not millions of people of faith — Orthodox and non-Orthodox, Jewish and gentile — mourning their teacher and source of inspiration. Everyone is unique but some of us, just a few, are irreplaceable. I doubt whether anyone can fill Rabbi Sacks’ oversized role in this world. In this age of disbelief, Rabbi Sacks improbably achieved great success in projecting an uncompromising pride and confidence in the wisdom of Jewish tradition, motivating non-affiliated Jews to come closer to tradition, inspiring faith in people across all nations and religions, and achieving respect for his global message of the societal importance of family, community, morality and religious faith.
Updated: Nov. 15, 2020
The articles in this issue demonstrate that, remarkably, day school stakeholders are continuing to dream about their schools, their community, and their craft—and doing so with more intensity and vibrancy than ever before. All of the training, the regular preparation, the professional development and investment in change that schools made before Covid are showing their value now palpably, “in the sight of all the people” (Exodus 19:11). Even as they work to create solutions to the challenges of today, they have an eye to the future, trying to anticipate which changes will bear fruit—which “castles in the air” may acquire a “foundation”— in a post-Covid world.
Updated: Nov. 09, 2020
The crisis is real, and there is no virtue in ignoring it. The pressure on day-school leaders and boards is relentless, and the immediate question is how to keep our existing educational institutions afloat. But the strategic challenge is to imagine “the new normal”—including the new possibilities—born of this multifaceted crisis. In short: how do American Jews—and Americans in general—eventually turn this tidal wave of disruptions into (as the great social thinker Joseph Schumpeter put it) “a gale of creative destruction” in the Jewish education sphere? Looking beyond the current crisis, can we fashion new models of Jewish schooling that are intellectually, culturally, and economically stronger than ever? And can Jews serve as a light unto other traditional communities in America, who face similar challenges?
Updated: Sep. 10, 2020
Book Review: Advancing the Learning Agenda in Jewish Education. edited by Jon A. Levisohn and Jeffrey S. Kress
Advancing the Learning Agenda in Jewish Education (2018), coedited by Jon Levisohn and Jeffrey Kress, is an exhortation to our field and a strong step forward toward creating the agenda they wish to see. From the very title, Levisohn and Kress make their aim explicit: they want their audience, the scholars, policymakers, and stakeholders in Jewish education, to take the next step in improving our field by putting learning higher on our agenda. They contend that for all the efforts in the past 30 years to reinvigorate Jewish education through new organizations, materials, and pedagogical approaches, stakeholders (including researchers) have paid insufficient attention to what they call “the learning agenda.”
Updated: Sep. 09, 2020
We are getting a lot of questions about how our fields within Jewish education are doing at this unique moment. As the pandemic has continued – and the depth of its impact on life becomes more acutely felt – we continue to try and make sense of the effect this has on Jewish education and how our fields continue to adapt. We try to reflect, often in real time, on what we are experiencing, how we can support educators and families, and what the future may look like. We share insight below from each of our fields – Early Childhood Education, Part-Time Jewish Education, Day Schools, Jewish Camp, Teen Engagement and Education, and College Engagement and Education.
Updated: Aug. 18, 2020
One of the most certain features of the COVID-19 period is the unprecedented level of uncertainty in our lives. Uncertainty is all around us, as the current COVID-19 pandemic has heightened uncertainty over our physical and mental health, the economy, relationships, education, employment, finances, etc. The coronavirus outbreak has emphasized that life can change very quickly and very unpredictably. The COVID-19 pandemic is changing – or has already changed – our collective understanding of uncertainty in ways that we could not have imagined a mere few months ago.
Updated: Aug. 18, 2020
Book Review: Portraits of Jewish Learning: Viewing Contemporary Jewish Education Close-In. Editor: Diane Tickton Schuster
Portraits of Jewish Learning, edited by Diane Tickton Schuster, is a collection of portraits drawn from across the wide field of Jewish education. Portraits of Jewish Learning (PoJL) joins a small, but important, literature of portraiture in Jewish education in the past decade, including Ingall’s (2006) Down the Up Staircase, Wertheimer’s (2009) Learning in Community, and Tauber’s (2015) Open Minds, Devoted Hearts. In PoJL, most of the participating writers were deeply involved in the learning processes they illuminate, an intimate vantage point that helps to produce rich and nuanced images of learning.
Updated: Aug. 18, 2020
From Day School to High School: An Exploratory Study on Jewish Adolescent Girls’ Identity Development
What does it mean to be a Jewish girl today and how do Jewish adolescent girls navigate their identity? This study is exploratory and designed to understand how three girls, who are recent day school graduates, experience the process of identity development as they begin high school. While the sample is small, the study reveals new directions for looking at Jewish girls and questions that need to be asked when researching their lives. It concludes with a few suggestions for thinking about how to conduct future research with Jewish girls.
Updated: Aug. 18, 2020
The articles in this issue confirm that today’s Jewish teenagers are a generation of creative thinkers; they will not be the passive recipients of an ancient tradition. Instead, they are broadly categorized as a generation from whom Jewish wisdom, values, and tradition are most readily adapted when presented in a nondogmatic, inquiry-based approach, where their role is to internalize, make sense of, and produce their own meaning. There is a tremendous opportunity for educators and for places of Jewish learning if they adapt to these practices: a generation of Jewish teenagers is open and willing to actively participate in those journeys.
Updated: Aug. 17, 2020
Sometimes what is so obvious to us needs to be restated: Jewish day schools are places of excellence, in ways that the word “education” only begins to cover. Their excellence has never been more apparent than now, during the pandemic of COVID-19. At a time when schools everywhere are struggling to teach, to engage students, and to attend to the stress and mental health challenges of prolonged isolation and confinement, Jewish schools are rising to the fore for their ability to adapt, to persevere, to provide care and support to their students and families. With all of the uncertainty in the world, it’s therefore a good time to revisit some of the arguments for Jewish schooling, with a special appeal to parents feeling a sense of heightened instability, uncertainty, and anxiety.
Updated: Jul. 19, 2020