Experiential Jewish Education Has Arrived! Now What?

August, 2014


Journal of Jewish Education, Volume 80, Issue 3, pages 319-342

Experiential Jewish education has been experiencing a time of growth, during which theory development, research, and practice have established a strong voice for the construct.
Much of the focus to this point has been on definitions (particularly the distinction between experiential and informal Jewish education) and on outcomes of settings often associated with an experiential Jewish education (EJE) approach. Along with increased understanding of EJE comes the potential to explore a more nuanced set of questions about the nature of educational experiences. This point of development of the field also raises question of the relationship of EJE and the broader field of Jewish education.



"We are at a critical point in the maturation of EJE. The early developmental struggles to articulate definitions and the subsequent outcomes studies of “informal” settings allowed EJE to rightfully claim a seat at the Jewish educational table.
It has, as Bryfman (2011) put it, reached its tipping point. The past decade can be seen as an adolescence or early adulthood of sorts. EJE experienced an organizational “growth spurt” in terms of the involvement of funders and the proliferation of training programs. It established an identity of nomenclature and definitions. Now, as an “adult” it is time for EJE to take a lead role. Paradoxically, it may be most successfully doing that by widening the tent rather than strongly demarcating barriers."


Updated: Sep. 18, 2014