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This report shares findings from interviews with students and educators conducted between January 2017 and June 2018. The student interviews were conducted with current high school students from three Jewish day schools. Additionally, educators in a wider range of Jewish day schools were interviewed. While the material below focuses primarily on the students’ perspectives, we use the interviews with educators to add more dimension to our portrait of the teaching and learning of rabbinics at the high school level. The interviews with teachers provide texture and context for the student accounts and help enrich our understanding of how Talmud is presented in Jewish day school classrooms.
Updated: Sep. 10, 2020
The articles in this issue confirm that today’s Jewish teenagers are a generation of creative thinkers; they will not be the passive recipients of an ancient tradition. Instead, they are broadly categorized as a generation from whom Jewish wisdom, values, and tradition are most readily adapted when presented in a nondogmatic, inquiry-based approach, where their role is to internalize, make sense of, and produce their own meaning. There is a tremendous opportunity for educators and for places of Jewish learning if they adapt to these practices: a generation of Jewish teenagers is open and willing to actively participate in those journeys.
Updated: Aug. 17, 2020
A new research brief from the Consortium for Applied Studies in Jewish Education (CASJE) examined data on how “second-in-command” leaders in Jewish day schools said they spent their time. An analysis of responses from these school leaders (who often hold the title of division head or principal, as opposed to head of school) revealed two main leadership typologies in Jewish day schools: 1. Organizational leaders, who spend more time on administrative tasks 2. Instructional leaders, who spend more time observing teachers, providing and planning professional development, and meeting with parents.
Updated: May. 13, 2020
Worth Knowing: Talmud Study and the Intellectual Values of High School Students at Liberal Jewish Day Schools
What do Jewish day school students believe constitutes good understanding and worthwhile learning in the context of their encounter with rabbinic texts in the classroom? This article shares findings from an interview study of Jewish day school students in grades 9 through 12 regarding their attitudes toward the study of Talmud. I argue that high school students’ estimations of the value of Talmud study are shaped, not only by individually held tastes, talents, and commitments, but also by a set of shared intellectual values. These values, related to their beliefs about the purposes of learning and what good learning should accomplish for the learner, develop in the context of their schools and communities and frame how students set goals for and assess their own understanding of Talmud.
Updated: Mar. 04, 2020
While rabbinic texts have long played a central role in the development of contemporary Judaisms and Jewish day school curricula, we don’t know very much about students’ learning. While we have some sense of what teachers and other experts think constitutes an understanding of rabbinics (Levisohn 2010, and Kanarek and Lehman 2016), there is little data about what students actually know about or are able to do with particular texts, or what sense they make of rabbinics as a whole. In the spring of 2017, as part of the Mandel Center’s Students’ Understanding of Rabbinics project, we interviewed twenty students recruited from two Jewish community day high schools about their study of rabbinics.
Updated: Nov. 09, 2017
As part of a larger study of student understandings of rabbinics—what it is, how it is learned, and what it’s for—it was clear to the research team that it would be important to include the voices of day school educators who teach rabbinics. We interviewed ten educators, including those who teach rabbinics and those who supervise its teaching.
Updated: May. 03, 2017
This study, commissioned and funded by the Hertog Foundation, and conducted by a team of academic researchers, was undertaken to learn about Chabad on Campus International, an organization that seeks to enhance Jewish identity and practice among Jewish college students at almost 200 American college campuses. Campus centers are run by Orthodox married couples trained at rabbinical schools and seminaries run by the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. The study was designed to learn who comes to Chabad at college campuses, how Chabad works with undergraduate students, and what impact Chabad involvement during college has on the post-college lives of young Jewish adults.
Updated: Sep. 28, 2016