Educating for Jewish Identity Doesn’t Cut it Anymore

December 16, 2013

Source: eJewish Philanthropy 


Therefore, we need a new response as to why Jewish education is important. We need a new vision and to stop “probing our pupiks,” and rationalizing the measure of our Jewishness amidst secular American culture. We need to address the apriori question: Why is Judaism itself important? Why does Judaism exist and what about Judaism defines its core purpose?


In other words, the underlying premise of Judaism is a spiritual one and filled with meaning, and that’s exactly what people need, no matter how or whether they choose to identify as a Jew. We must shift our educational attention and priority from the outward focus of Jewish identity to the inward focus of spiritual identity through Torah. A spiritual identity is an integrative one that imbues meaning to behavior and attitudes, as well as thoughts and feelings. It gives purpose to the past and inspires us to make both ourselves and the world better for the future.


This shift in focus demands a new breed of Jewish educator. A Jewish educator must now have not only a vision for a school, but a vision for Judaism itself. Programming, curriculum, and instruction are profoundly important, but are empty shells without spirit – without heart and soul. We need Jewish educators that know the “why of Judaism” just as well as the “how of Judaism.” If educators can’t speak to why we are teaching Judaism beyond the reason of Jewish identification, Judaism and Jewish practice will become progressively irrelevant.


Read more at eJewish Philanthropy.

Updated: Jan. 01, 2014