Section archive - Informal Education
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Last July, I visited the Biblical Museum of Natural History at its new state-of-the-art site on the outskirts of Beit Shemesh. At the time, Israel was still deep in coronavirus lockdown, so I had the museum all to myself as I embarked on a private tour led by the museum’s founder and devoted director, the indefatigable Rabbi Dr. Natan Slifkin — who, besides being a rabbi, is also a zoologist and an authority on all living things, particularly from the perspective of traditional Judaism and Jewish history.
Updated: Apr. 18, 2021
Tel Aviv’s newly revamped Museum of the Jewish People attempts the ambitious undertaking of bringing almost 3,000 years of Jewish history and tradition under a single roof. The museum — formerly known as Beit Hatfutsot and newly branded as ANU, Hebrew for “We” — reopened to visitors this week after more than a decade of renovations costing $100 million. Its exhibition space has tripled, making it the largest Jewish museum in the world, officials say. Its old galleries with dioramas and models from when it first opened in 1978 have given way to cutting-edge exhibits with interactive touchscreens and original artwork.
Updated: Mar. 22, 2021
I would like to invite you to see some of these fantastic discoveries with me, on a virtual tour that will take you, not only to the locations themselves - Shushan, and other cities in ancient Persia - but also to some of the world's great museums, where the palace artifacts are displayed. This tour is called “In the Days of Achashverosh," and there are several public and private tours scheduled until Purim. Each Zoom virtual tour is one-hour long, with Q&A following. Hebrew and English editions are scheduled.
Updated: Feb. 18, 2021
While the rest of the world may be Zoom fatigued, over seventy families have continued to sign on for a free Zoom toddler music class twice-a-week. Why do these grownups and their babies, toddlers, and preschoolers keep coming back, as they have been since March?
Updated: Feb. 18, 2021
The severe restrictions on public life in many countries following the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic specifically affected Holocaust memorials and museums in all parts of the world, especially in Europe and in Israel. These measures posed a significant challenge, because contemporary forms of Holocaust commemoration are particularly based on the personal experience of presence at museums and historical sites. In contrast to the experience of distancing in face of the COVID-19 pandemic, establishing the presence of the past is thus a crucial element of contemporary Holocaust commemoration. This article explores the relationship between presence and absence, proximity and distance, guided commemoration and online engagement by critically analyzing digital activities of Holocaust memorials and museums in response to the pandemic. It argues that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Holocaust memorials began experimenting with the potential of social media for Holocaust memory. These experiments finally accepted the ongoing generational change and reacted to significant previous shifts in media consumption that were already affecting Holocaust commemoration.
Updated: Jan. 13, 2021
The Impact of Context on Attitudes Toward Heritage Languages: A Case Study of Jewish Schools in the Asia-Pacific Region
This qualitative study, examining seven communities in the globalized Asia Pacific area, aimed to investigate Jewish community attitudes toward Hebrew, their heritage language (HL), as influenced by the social environment. The main finding was that the “complex ecology” of context influences attitudes to Hebrew. The article delineates three major categories: expatriates in Asia, whose particularistic identity, including Hebrew, was strengthened; citizens, the majority native-born, in Australia and immigrants in New Zealand, whose Jewish identity was weakened. Findings demonstrate the importance of community contact, adding to understanding HL learning and linguistic distance between micro and macro elements in the sociolinguistic context.
Updated: Dec. 15, 2020
PJ Library has expanded to six new countries and two new languages. Programs in Brazil, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland are shipping children’s books to thousands of families for the first time, and new programs are launching in Ireland and Estonia.
Updated: Nov. 05, 2020
As an entrepreneur roaming the halls of the great museums, teaching Tanach and Jewish History in many cities on-site, mine was a particularly hard challenge. All my teaching moved to Zoom, the Met closed, and Amtrak cancelled my imminent Rhode Island School of Design visit. Surprisingly, this led me in a new direction: reaching more people and showing them more museums than I could have imagined. No need to wait to travel to Boston, Atlanta, Toronto or London to guide a Tanach tour in their museums, and only for locals. Google Earth and Street View open the world’s great museums from the comfort of your chair. I now sit in Jerusalem and explore museums and sites I explored in the past, from London to Jordan, and travel to many more, from the Nile to Mesopotamia to the Pantheon.
Updated: Nov. 03, 2020
Richard Collis hopes his musical recording of the Shabbat service will help more people to become familiar with the liturgy. Back in London, over the next few years he began recording the melodies with a musician friend from Edgware, Yossi Yoffe. And now he has released a musical double-album of the Shabbat service from Nishmat to Adon Olam with 64 tracks in which pretty every word of the prayers is sung.
Updated: Oct. 22, 2020
Autobiographies of B’nai Mitzvah: The Meaning of B’nai Mitzvah and the Role Adolescents Believe Adults Play in the Process
B’nai mitzvah are a significant motivation for engagement in Jewish education. Professionals and families devote resources in aiding young people in becoming b’nai mitzvah. This article examines the adolescent narratives of b’nai mitzvah and the ways in which adults feature in their stories. Their accounts surface a belief that adults support them through pep talks, expressions of pride, helping them make choices, and being with them through the process. Teens see themselves responsible for their choices and achievements, but are appreciative of support. This article raises questions about what ways and by whom adolescents should be guided and supported.
Updated: Aug. 18, 2020