Section archive - Informal Education
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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
The values that begin to solidify during adolescence can be steered by experiential education programs designed to inculcate a set of attitudes and behaviors in their participants. One such program, Jewish Youth Philanthropy, socializes adolescents into recognizing the importance of donating both to Jewish causes and within a Jewish framework. This paper examines the relationship between these programs and the development of Jewish and donor identities during adolescence. It suggests that surveyed Jewish youth philanthropy participants are more likely than non-participants to perceive themselves as donors, but that their Jewish identities are viewed as justifications for prosocial behavior, not drivers of it.
Updated: Aug. 18, 2020
We are thrilled to announce the launching of Maimonides Moot Court Competition (MMCC) as the premiere program for students to grapple with contemporary ethics through a prism of Jewish legal tradition. Powered by the Hadar Institute and supported by Maimonides Fund, the Maimonides Moot Court Competition builds upon the international competitions for high school and college students previously known as Moot Beit Din, in which participants defend ethical arguments grounded in Jewish wisdom in response to a modern ethical issue.
Updated: Jul. 15, 2020
For all of the six years that Sarah Benor, Jonathan Krasner, and I spent researching and writing about the use of written and spoken varieties of Hebrew at American Jewish overnight camps, we never imagined that as our book Hebrew Infusion: Language and Community at American Jewish Summer Camps was coming off the printing press we would be facing a situation in which most of these camps were making the painful decision to close for the summer of 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though we had some inkling around Passover that camp leadership was grappling with the implications of the virus’s severity, there was still a glimmer of hope that if anyone could figure out a creative way to keep camps open and safe, it would be Jewish overnight camp directors.
Updated: Jul. 12, 2020
On Becoming a ‘Real’ Jew: An Ethnography of Adolescents’ Identity Formation in a Jewish Community in Germany
In the course of an ethnographic investigation in the youth group of a Jewish community that included participant observation, group discussions and problem-centred interviews, I gained insights into the contextualised construction of Jewish identities. Analysing identity formation as a holistic form of learning, I identify two trajectories of socially embedded identity formation: appropriating aspects of Judaism taught in the youth group and becoming a part of the Jewish collective. Within the latter trajectory, I differentiate three sub-processes: forming and evaluating social representations of the Jewish people, ascribing ‘Jewishness’ to oneself, and experiencing communality.
Updated: Jun. 15, 2020