Jewish Educational Leadership. Winter, 2021 – Meaning Making in Jewish Education

Winter, 2021

Source: Lookstein Center 


In a free, democratic environment, where Jews were integrating into the general society, why should Jewish children pay attention to their Jewish studies? That question has taken on increasing urgency with the passage of time. The classic sources seem further removed from our contemporary world than ever and Jews are integrating into general society in ever increasing ways. Regardless of denominational affiliation, there is a growing sense that every Jewish child will be making a choice as to whether and to what degree to live an engaged Jewish life. Every student in any Jewish educational setting—day school, supplementary school, synagogue school, youth group, camp, etc.—has to be viewed as a potential Jew by Choice. The implication for educators is clear: our educational program needs to be built in such a way that our students will be more likely to choose to live Jewishly engaged lives. And that is true for Jews in every corner of the world where they are free to choose.

Perhaps this is why the topic for this journal, making Jewish learning meaningful, touched raw nerves in so many people from an extraordinary range of the community. The response to the Call for Papers included submissions from community schools to Orthodox schools, formal and informal educators, academics, leaders in central agencies for Jewish education, classroom teachers, researchers, communal Rabbis, and school heads. The urgency of the topic demanded that we publish the double issue before you.

To help you navigate the articles, we have divided them into sections. The first, the overview section, includes articles that explore the issue of meaning-making with a blend of theory and a practical framework. The second section focuses on how to address making meaning by looking at the content and pedagogy of what happens in the classroom. The third emphasizes the role of school culture and includes articles which argue cogently and forcefully against popular notions of what makes learning meaningful. The fourth expands the perspective by looking at informal educational settings.

Jewish Educational Leadership invites articles for the Spring 2021 issue focusing on: Learning from COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced everyone to adapt to a new reality, and a recent study suggests that day schools adapted better than most of the rest of the educational world. While we do not yet know how long and to what extent the pandemic will continue to play a major role in our daily lives, there is already much to learn from the kind of adaptations which have been forced upon us and there are silver linings to the storm which has enveloped us. Some of the radical changes made by the educational community overturned decades of practice for the better; even the process of change has been dramatically altered. This issue of the journal focuses on looking at COVID-19 as a catalyst for rethinking Jewish education with an eye toward the questions of, “What do we want to keep?” and, “In what ways are we better off now?”

The areas we would like to address include but are not limited to:

  • The school’s role as a community center and its relationship with its constituents, including parents, students, and staff 
  • Administrative issues such as teacher and student absence, remote learning, scheduling, meetings, after-hours learning, space, flexibility, and fundraising/development, priorities in new hires, and cooperation with other schools 
  • Professional development, including experimentation, collaboration, and pace of change 
  • Social-emotional learning, including care for students in and out of school, support for families, support for educators and school leaders, and school/organizational culture 
  • Educational issues including curricular priorities, assessments, technology, differentiation, guest teachers, student ownership of their learning, and revisiting the tradition-innovation tension.

See the call for articles here.



Updated: Mar. 18, 2021