In December 2015, CASJE’s latest blogcast with researchers, funders, and practitioners explored the different experiences that cultivate a sense of Jewish Peoplehood. The blogcast, which built on the Jewish Peoplehood Education Problem Formulation Convening, is part of CASJE’s process to develop research questions that help guide the practice of Jewish Education. The cast participants delivered a rich, engaging conversation that looked deeply at different elements around Jewish Peoplehood experiences.
On the blogcast’s final day, they honed in on research that they think will help practitioners effectively do the work of Jewish Peoplehood education:
One thing I think we don't understand enough is what participants/students/learners really experience from their visits to different sites and their listening to the different narratives. I think our theories are basically correct but I don't think we know enough about what really goes on during immersive travel/Peoplehood experiences. Is there indeed curiosity to start with?...What do they find most compelling? What is the difference (if any) in impact/learning when people travel far away or stay closer to home?
Researchers should integrate into the work being done by educators and community builders. The best educators and community builders are able to explicate the rationale of what they are doing to connect their constituents to the Jewish People, but they don't have the luxury of time to document their work or to engage others in formative discussions. Researchers should sit at that point, between practice and discourse and enable the two to interact with one another.
Instead of focusing on the participants, is there a research question to be asked around the organisers/conceivers of Jewish heritage travel - i.e. their intents and goals? And how do their repeat trips of taking people impact their own evolving understanding of how the participants relate to the experience? (I'm thinking of those I know who take hundreds of people on short trips to Poland - week in, week out - what does it do to them?)
Most important, on the policy front, we need to translate what we do know into practical systems for expanding the field. For that, we could benefit from some case studies of successful field-building in Jewish education. For instance, how did Jewish Family Education establish and institutionalize itself, and what lessons can we take for building Jewish Travel Education as a field in its own right?
Jewish travel in your own backyard– is it possible to use local stories to promote global identity? Most realistically, honestly and indeed ethically, local comes first but how can one build it outwards.