Search results for: History of Jewish education
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Prior to World War I, traditional Jewish parents in Eastern Europe provided their daughters with, at the very most, a few years of formal religious education. If girls received any schooling beyond that, it would be at a secular institution; it was common, in fact, even for prominent Orthodox rabbis to send their daughters to secular schools. This all changed thanks to a Galician Jew named Sarah Schenirer, who founded a network of girls’ schools—known as Bais Yaakov—that grew rapidly in the 1920 and 30s; today, most ḥaredi girls attend Bais Yaakov institutions. Schenirer has since become a hero in ultra-Orthodox circles. But the popular version of her story muddles some key details.
Updated: Aug. 30, 2017
This book sheds new light on the life and work of Janusz Korczak, the twentieth century humanist moral educator and path-breaking social-pedagogue who is generally unknown in the English speaking world. In the two orphanages he led in Warsaw Poland. Korczak developed an innovative array of educational practices that motivated children from broken families suffering from serious social-interpersonal pathologies to re-form themselves during the five to seven years they lived in the orphanage.
Updated: Jun. 25, 2017
What do we hope to achieve from Jewish education? If we no longer view the ultimate goal of Jewish education as reducing intermarriage, then what are our desired outcomes? How does the dialogue about goals and outcomes play out in our multiple Jewish educational settings and in the relationship with the philanthropists who support Jewish education? In this issue of Gleanings, the ejournal of the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education of The Jewish Theological Seminary, we seek answers to these important questions.
Updated: Apr. 19, 2017
A century ago, Israel Friedlaender—scholar, communal activist, and educator—played a key role in such educational institutions as the Teachers Institute of JTS, the Bureau of Jewish Education, the Menorah Society, Young Israel, and Young Judea. A JTS professor and prolific writer, Friedlaender has been described as “the teacher of the Jewish youth of that generation.” Yet, scant attention has been devoted to exploring his educational thought and action agenda. This retrospective focuses on Friedlaender’s activities and impact in advancing Jewish education and considers the relationship of his legacy to current directions in the field.
Updated: Nov. 16, 2016
Accentuate the Positive: The Influence of Kurt Lewin’s ‘Bringing Up the Jewish Child’ on Postwar American Jewish Life
This article contributes new insights into German-Jewish psychologist Kurt Lewin’s work and its considerable influence on American Jewish educational theory and practice since the 1940s. Though he died in 1947, Lewin’s theories about the emotional needs of the Jewish child and the principles of effective Jewish education continued to influence American Jewish pedagogy long after his passing. Lewin, a social psychologist who fled Hitler’s Germany in 1933 and eventually landed at MIT, argued for the importance of inculcating a notion of “group belongingness,” or attachment to the Jewish social group, in the Jewish child as a critical factor in his or her healthy emotional development.
Updated: Nov. 09, 2016
“Jewish identity,” which emerged as an analytical term in the 1950s, appealed to a set of needs that American Jews felt in the postwar period, which accounted for its popularity. Identity was the quintessential conundrum for a community on the threshold of acceptance. The work of Kurt Lewin, Erik Erikson, Will Herberg, Marshall Sklare, and others helped to shape the communal conversation. The reframing of that discourse from one that was essentially psychosocial and therapeutic to one that was sociological and survivalist reflected the community’s growing sense of physical and socioeconomic security in the 1950s and early 1960s. The American Jewish Committee and its Division of Scientific Research offers an enlightening case study of this phenomenon. Jewish educators seized on identity formation, making it the raison d’être of their endeavor. But the ascent of identity discourse also introduced a number of challenges for the Jewish educator—conceptual, methodological, political, and even existential.
Updated: May. 26, 2016
Twenty-five years after the publication of A Time to Act, by the Commission on Jewish Education of North America (CJENA), we are in a position to evaluate this initiative with historical hindsight. At the time, the commission was heralded as an unprecedented communal undertaking and a signal that after years of perfunctory treatment and neglect by the organized Jewish community, Jewish education was gaining recognition as a vital concern. While accurate, this assessment benefits from contextualization both in the American and the American-Jewish situation of the 1980s and early-1990s. The CJENA and its report mirrored American anxiety during that same period about the state of K-12 education, while initiatives to address systemic weaknesses in Jewish education were concurrent with the spate of reform efforts spawned to address the perceived decline in public education. At the same time, A Time to Act exemplified a more general malaise within the Jewish community about the effects of rapid integration on Jewish ethnic and religious survival.
Updated: May. 26, 2016
The literature on Reform Jewish education in America rightly recognizes Emanuel Gamoran’s work in establishing the direction of Hebrew schools in the Reform movement toward a cultural pluralism influenced by Samson Benderley et al. Yet the terrain onto which Gamoran stepped was not unmarked. Prior to his tenure, three Reform rabbis thought hard about how new currents in psychology could strengthen Jewish education toward the ends of religious individualism. This article examines how Henry Berkowitz, David Philipson, and Louis Grossman integrated select currents in educational psychology into their writings on Jewish education, and into their theology of the educated Jew.
Updated: May. 22, 2016
Balancing Educational Practice with Psychological Theory: Lukinsky’s Study of a Bold Camp Ramah Curriculum
Missing from the growing literature on Jewish camps is Lukinsky’s (1968) pioneering study of the curriculum to teach responsibility that he designed for the 1966 Ramah American Seminar. Reviewing this work I discovered that Lukinsky—under Schwab’s (1971) influence—creates a rare balance between his own perspectives as an educational practitioner turned researcher with those of Erik Erikson, the famed developmental psychologist. I suggest that we read his work as an example to all who call upon theories of psychological development on how to use those theories to illuminate our thinking while not allowing them to dominate our educational discourse.
Updated: May. 22, 2016
This article presents two pioneering religious Jewish schools that opened their doors to girls in Jerusalem in the first decade and a half after the end of World War I and the establishment of the British Mandate in Palestine. One of these schools, established by Chana Shpitzer, was exclusively for girls, while the other, Ma‘aleh, was coeducational. Although both schools were Orthodox in outlook and identified with the growing Zionist movement, their approaches to Torah education for girls were quite different. I believe a comparison between these two schools offers some insights into the relative advantages and disadvantages of single-sex and mixed Jewish educational frameworks.
Updated: Apr. 20, 2016