Truth-Telling in the UK Jewish Studies Classroom for Orthodox Educators


Source: Journal of Jewish Education Volume 83, 2017 Issue 4, pages 310-338


UK Orthodox Jewish educators face a number of ethical dilemmas surrounding truth-telling in the classroom. While they must comply with government legislation and high standards of professional conduct, they may also wish their practice to be informed by halachic considerations. This theoretical study explores the potential tensions that may arise when allegiances to the above areas lead to conflicting courses of action, and attempts to plot a course of appropriate conduct that can satisfy all considerations. Direct distortion is identified as an inappropriate tool, whereas omission of content that will hinder students’ Orthodox development is considered preferable to unfiltered disclosure.

This article has suggested that UK Orthodox educators who wish to legitimately conform their teaching with the guidelines of the halacha can do so by teaching in a confessional manner which can legitimately involve intentional omission of objectionable material. This method is preferred to open disclosure of potentially deterring material. By analyzing the debates surrounding the relevant areas, the conclusion has been reached that direct falsification of information that will potentially discourage engagement in Orthodox belief or practice is an inappropriate recourse. Although the subject of a small-scale research project (Burman,2016), further empirical data is required to consider how UK Orthodox educators currently deal with this issue, where they identify ethical dilemmas, and what their recourse is for further clarity. As a result of this research, the formulation of a detailed guideline of potential legitimate responses to frequently occurring issues would be a useful tool for class room educators. In addition, further theoretical clarification is needed regarding the restrictions of Torah distortion in areas of Jewish custom and world-outlook.

Updated: Feb. 06, 2018