Contemporary Concerns, Assessments, and Aspirations in Jewish Educational Research

Dec. 26, 2011

Source: Journal of Jewish Education, Volume 74, Issue 4, pages 282-297


This essay reviews the Vision and Practice section of the International Handbook of Jewish Education published in 2011.

Editor's article review (Michael Zeldin):

Jennifer Glaser opens with a review of the first section of the International Handbook of Jewish Education, “Vision and Practice.” She analyzes this “rather eclectic section” drawing on her textured understanding of philosophies of education. She begins with Barry Chazan's and Daniel Pekarsky's articles and explores the descriptive-normative distinction in the philosophy of Jewish education. She points out that “this distinction becomes complex when we put language to use.”

Glaser uses the normative-descriptive lens to provide a heuristic for unpacking the papers in this section. For example, she analyzes Charme and Zelkowicz's paper on Jewish identity by explaining that their shift in the normative meaning of Jewish identity “repositions the research task from measuring the strength of past mechanisms as predictors of the Jewish future to one that focuses on uncovering ever emergent Jewish possibilities.”

Glaser identifies a second thread which runs throughout this section of the Handbook, the “changing rules of engagement,” which she describes as the various ways in which “Jewish education might best respond to changes taking place in the broader social and intellectual context in which Jewish community is situated.” Finally, she looks at “the power of the example,” looking at three ways the papers use the many examples they present to help us understand Jewish education.

Updated: Jan. 01, 2012