Section archive - Trends in Jewish Education
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Jewish educators are not just looking to life beyond the proverbial cave and the day after COVID, but are continuing to do what good educators do: reflect on their practice and learn from their prior experiences. From these adverse and confronting times, educators have begun to see pedagogic practices that will impact Jewish education beyond the pandemic. Some educators are bold enough to declare that from this great disruption will emerge tremendous innovation, that the new normal will look nothing like what existed prior to pandemic, or even just that technology has opened their eyes up to new potential and possibilities. Some of my colleagues and I have dubbed these new possibilities as our COVID Keepers – what we think might prevail when all of this is over. We’re proud to share some of our thoughts on COVID Keepers below.
Updated: Jan. 14, 2021
Jewish day schools are in the news. Some of the attention comes in the form of negative publicity about health risks that schools in the more insular sectors of Orthodoxy have taken to keep classes in session during the COVID-19 pandemic. On a more positive note, day schools with a more modern orientation have received praise for doing an unusually good job of helping their students get through the spring lockdowns—and, where possible, for how rigorously they planned and executed reopening the current school year. Their efforts seem more successful than those of many public and nonsectarian private schools. These achievements have not been lost on parents, including some who had not enrolled their children in the past but over the summer showed new interest. Why day schools have done well and what parents are seeing when they give them a second look is a story that can be understood only in the context of their significant, yet largely unremarked, educational transformation over the past two decades.
Updated: Jan. 13, 2021
R. Yehoshua ben Gamla’s innovation, which may have saved countless Jewish children from ignorance, has been the flashpoint for many minor internal conflicts. What do we do when the formal Jewish learning undermines long-standing family traditions? How do those with formal Jewish authority react when the families and the community seek to undermine that authority? The questions are not limited to religion, they extend to almost every aspect of life. Are schools to function as societal thought-leaders and change agents or is their mandate to maintain the norms and standards of its constituents and the community it serves?
Updated: Jan. 12, 2021
School’s Place in Nurturing Students’ Jewish Identity Within a Broader Social and Cultural World: Stakeholders’ Experience
This article reports on students’ and faculty members’ experience of their pluralistic Jewish day school’s educational mission to nurture students’ Jewish identity exploration within a broader social and cultural world. It articulates these stakeholders’ perceptions of the ways teaching and learning of Jewish values, customs, and knowledge are integrated into the formal and informal educational experiences. Furthermore, it identifies five key features that contribute, mainly positively, to students’ exploration. of a broader Jewish, Australian, and global identity formation. It argues that a close alignment between stakeholders’ personal views and beliefs and their experience of the implemented educational mission, is a major contributing factor in stakeholder satisfaction with Jewish day school education.
Updated: Jan. 11, 2021
What are important ideas to keep close to your heart and mind when working with participants of all abilities? Stability, creativity, flexibility and finding the certainty within your uncertainty. At Shutaf Inclusion Programs in Jerusalem , we call that Structured Flexibility, that is, setting your goals and building your program’s structure while planning and allowing for variation as it reveals itself along with the needs of each participant.
Updated: Jan. 10, 2021
The Jewish world, and beyond, have felt an immense sense of loss this past month, faced to contemplate a world without the spiritual and moral leadership of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. So much has been written in these weeks, by so many, on his impact and influence. I wish to consider how we can begin working toward actualising the vision for the Jewish people and the wider world which he laid out for us so eloquently in his writings and speeches. My humble contribution is to begin a conversation on what a system of Jewish education based on the thought of Rabbi Sacks may look like, and I have tried to set this out in this Manifesto on Jewish Education.
Updated: Dec. 16, 2020
Beyond Jewish Identity edited by Jon A. Levisohn and Ari Y. Kelman (2019). Academic Studies Press: Book Review
A new book, Beyond Jewish Identity: Rethinking Concerns and Imagining Alternatives, edited by Ari Kelman and Jon Levisohn, straddles the distinction between the processes that shape Jewish identities and the communal project of “Jewish identity.” The book’s essays hover around the idea that there’s something troubling about “Jewish Identity” and the outsize role that it now plays in Jewish communal-organizational discourse that needs to be reconsidered, especially with regard to Jewish education. The editors push for this reconsideration because they believe that attending to Jewish identity as an outcome undermines thoughtful Jewish education and misdirects the attention of the funders.
Updated: Dec. 15, 2020
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