Shabbat Challenge Narratives: Examining the Use of Blended Learning in Family Engagement

Spring 2018

Source: Northeastern University


Jewish family education attempts to educate and engage the entire family in Jewish knowledge, practice and community. The programs, activities and classes are designed with the explicit goal of having the families transport the experiences and the learning out of the location of delivery and apply them to their families’ lives through the creation of a community of engaged practitioners. However, several scholars have questioned if family education has the ability to empower families to change their beliefs and practices in their daily lives once the family is outside the sight of delivery.

The purpose of this narrative study was to examine how blended learning could offer a unique and powerful pedagogy for Jewish family engagement, allowing families to incorporate Jewish learning and behaviors into their daily lives through both the support and empowerment of a community of peers. Specifically, this research aimed to illuminate the narratives of participants in a challenge group created to empower participants to incorporate Shabbat dinner into their families’ week. Five participants were interviewed to better understand the lived reality of being a participant in the Shabbat Challenge. As well as to understand what the participants believed the blended learning Shabbat challenge brought to their family life. As well as understanding what the participants believe the community of peers brought to their Shabbat challenge experience?

Several important finds emerged from this narrative study. Following the Shabbat Challenge, participants expressed increased intentionality or mindfulness concerning Shabbat. Participants expressed increased Shabbat dinner practices than prior to the Shabbat Challenge. They exhibited goal setting behaviors concerning Shabbat dinner practices. They expressed that the Shabbat Challenge offered them the space to address the emotional issues of Shabbat. And participants reported that they were motivated to continue to create a weekly Friday night Shabbat dinner. Overall, participants reported feeling that the Shabbat Challenge had a lasting impact on their families’ Shabbat awareness and practices. These personal narratives illuminate how the field of Family education and engagement could best move forward concerning the use of on-line, peer group learning to empower families to bring Judaism into their homes, making Judaism relevant to their daily lives. On-line, peer group learning, using a connected learning approach, aids families in incorporating Jewish learning, behaviors, and community into their daily lives.

Updated: Jun. 06, 2018