Jewish Values Education in Reform Religious Schools

Apr. 03, 2013

Source: Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR)


This study examines Jewish values, explores how and in what settings these values are taught, surveys the current curricula used in a select group of religious schools, and determines whether the curricula reflect current theological ideas regarding Jewish values. The literature review suggests that the question of pedagogical methods appropriate to teaching Jewish values remains a long-standing unanswered question. The current study attempts to further clarify the current practice of teaching Jewish values.


Four religious schools in the Los Angeles area were selected for this study, and current personnel were interviewed. The results of this exploration suggest that although the religious schools studied teach similar values to similar aged students, with a uniform Jewish values curriculum, these curricula fail to consider the students’ moral developmental stages. Moreover, there was little consideration for the theoretical learning of values, and the relevance to the students' "real life" application. In some cases, religious schools used theoretical texts that lacked practical examples that students could understand and apply or were not within the realm of the students' experiences. For example, one curriculum used popular, famous people as role models to demonstrate a particular Jewish value. However, the students were unable to relate to many of these examples because they were not age appropriate or they fell outside the realities of their lives. Further, the current exploration showed differences among the schools with respect to the pedagogy.


The information gathered in this review and study is intended to provide the basis for a developmentally and socially appropriate curriculum guide for teaching Jewish values in a religious school setting.

Updated: Dec. 11, 2013