Section archive - Trends in Jewish Education
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The most surprising thing about this year of teaching on Zoom is that student exams got better. I don’t mean that student exams are better now than they were earlier in the year. I mean that they are better than they were before we moved to Zoom. Also, our classes have more students now than they did before the pandemic forced us into digital exile. My seminars and lectures in Jewish thought at Bar-Ilan University are full—indeed, all of the basic Judaism classes here are full—and our department of eight full-time faculty members has over 200 graduate students. Freed from social obligations, commutes, and the need to leave our home workstations, the eight of us are publishing more and better articles and books. We can also apply for more grants and attend more online conferences. By these external measures, then, the department of Jewish philosophy at Bar-Ilan is thriving.
Updated: Apr. 13, 2021
This installment from Jewish educators–covering adult education (for the first time), day schools, and early childhood education—serves as both a reflection on the last 12 months in Jewish education, as well as a moment to pause and imagine what the future of Jewish education might look like moving forward. In many ways it is this challenge that has embodied the heroics of Jewish educators in the last year—being on call to serve the immediate myriad crises that the pandemic presented on a daily basis, while simultaneously, or at least in parallel, ensuring that the “new normal” of Jewish education would be an enhanced and improved version of its pre-pandemic state.
Updated: Mar. 22, 2021
With all of its devastation and challenges, the past year shone a light on critical issues that many believe will, and should, deeply inform Jewish education beyond the pandemic. As continues to be evident from the contributions in this eJP series from leading figures, understanding our learners as whole people who need the benefits and support that good education offers remains a high priority for Jewish education. Whereas once many educators may have declared that the purpose of Jewish education was to make people more Jewish, we now hear that for Jewish education to be successful it must help to make individuals stronger versions of themselves and more integrated and influential members of the communities in which they live. What the following contributors emphasize is that whether it’s in classrooms, campsites, conference centers, or online, we are witnessing a Jewish education sector that has risen to the occasion of this pandemic, and in doing so also begun to pave a way for thriving Jewish education into the future.
Updated: Mar. 21, 2021
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.
Updated: Mar. 18, 2021
The Egyptian parliament recently commended the Ministry of Education on approving a new school subject: common values. The course examines religious values and verses that have the same meaning in the three Abrahamic religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — in a move that will allow Egyptian students to study verses from the Jewish religion for the first time ever.
Updated: Mar. 18, 2021
How to Teach Mosaic Religion in Public Schools? The Dilemmas Facing Galician Jews in the Period of Autonomy (1867–1918)
This article investigates the genesis of a new model of religious education in the history of Jews using as an example Jews in Galicia during its autonomous period (1867–1918). The multifaceted and complex process of shaping instruction in Jewish religion in public schools against the background of sociocultural changes in Galicia in the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century is presented. The description of this process was based on hitherto unknown printed sources and archive records.
Updated: Feb. 18, 2021
Jewish educators are not just looking to life beyond the proverbial cave and the day after COVID, but are continuing to do what good educators do: reflect on their practice and learn from their prior experiences. From these adverse and confronting times, educators have begun to see pedagogic practices that will impact Jewish education beyond the pandemic. Some educators are bold enough to declare that from this great disruption will emerge tremendous innovation, that the new normal will look nothing like what existed prior to pandemic, or even just that technology has opened their eyes up to new potential and possibilities. Some of my colleagues and I have dubbed these new possibilities as our COVID Keepers – what we think might prevail when all of this is over. We’re proud to share some of our thoughts on COVID Keepers below.
Updated: Jan. 14, 2021
Jewish day schools are in the news. Some of the attention comes in the form of negative publicity about health risks that schools in the more insular sectors of Orthodoxy have taken to keep classes in session during the COVID-19 pandemic. On a more positive note, day schools with a more modern orientation have received praise for doing an unusually good job of helping their students get through the spring lockdowns—and, where possible, for how rigorously they planned and executed reopening the current school year. Their efforts seem more successful than those of many public and nonsectarian private schools. These achievements have not been lost on parents, including some who had not enrolled their children in the past but over the summer showed new interest. Why day schools have done well and what parents are seeing when they give them a second look is a story that can be understood only in the context of their significant, yet largely unremarked, educational transformation over the past two decades.
Updated: Jan. 13, 2021
R. Yehoshua ben Gamla’s innovation, which may have saved countless Jewish children from ignorance, has been the flashpoint for many minor internal conflicts. What do we do when the formal Jewish learning undermines long-standing family traditions? How do those with formal Jewish authority react when the families and the community seek to undermine that authority? The questions are not limited to religion, they extend to almost every aspect of life. Are schools to function as societal thought-leaders and change agents or is their mandate to maintain the norms and standards of its constituents and the community it serves?
Updated: Jan. 12, 2021
School’s Place in Nurturing Students’ Jewish Identity Within a Broader Social and Cultural World: Stakeholders’ Experience
This article reports on students’ and faculty members’ experience of their pluralistic Jewish day school’s educational mission to nurture students’ Jewish identity exploration within a broader social and cultural world. It articulates these stakeholders’ perceptions of the ways teaching and learning of Jewish values, customs, and knowledge are integrated into the formal and informal educational experiences. Furthermore, it identifies five key features that contribute, mainly positively, to students’ exploration. of a broader Jewish, Australian, and global identity formation. It argues that a close alignment between stakeholders’ personal views and beliefs and their experience of the implemented educational mission, is a major contributing factor in stakeholder satisfaction with Jewish day school education.
Updated: Jan. 11, 2021