The Greening of “Informal Jewish Education” Talk

May. 28, 2007

Source: Journal of Jewish Education, Volume 73, Issue 2 , pages 115 - 118


The author welcomes the new attention being afforded the the concept “informal education” in the field of Jewish education. However, he expresses worry about the loose and sloppy use of terms, concepts, and ideas rampant in this discussion. He notes the contribution of Reimer's article to the effort to enrich the level of the discourse of this concept in academic and popular circles.


In this article the author notes Reimer's pioneering attempt to clarify the meaning of “informal education” by adding and emphasizing four significant points:


  • “Informal Jewish Education” is Jewish Education with all the seriousness, and potential impact usually ascribed to education.
  • Informal Jewish Education” is intentional, being every bit as planned and goal oriented as any other form of education.
  • informal Jewish education is not water-downed Jewish education, but can be as rich in content as all Jewish education.
  • “Informal Jewish Education” is not “Socialization”. It aims at moving students to take the steps to “go deeper”.

Chazan makes an effort to clarify the fuzzy term “going deeper”, translating it into the notion of “meaning making”, a term which has been popularized by contemporary critical theory and postmodern educational theory and implies that education ultimately is about helping individuals create personal meaning in their lives. He claims that the joining of Jewish formal and informal education along with socialization can help an individual shape a life of Jewish meaning and worth.


Chazan calls for the continuation of the meaningful discourse on “informal Jewish education”, but calls for the use of clear-speak rather than “edu-babble” in the ongoing discussion. He welcomes the clarity of Reimer's article as a helpful beacon for that path.

Reviewed by JTEC Portal Team.

Updated: Jul. 27, 2008