Jewish learning in the context of professional development for Jews working in the “disruptive”, or engagement sector has emerged as a domain into which millions of dollars are invested annually, with very little hard data on how those investments correlate to educational growth. This article considers the Sensibilities Framework, promoted by the Lippman Kanfer Foundation as an initial attempt to theorize this domain, and suggests further avenues for research by theorists of American Jewish education.
Rather than advocating for the Sensibilities approach, or attempting to validate or decry its educational philosophy, this article has therefore sought to acknowledge that the approach offers a first theorizing of a domain for which there is very little data or grassroots research. To evaluate the efficacy of the Sensibilities Framework as a learning agenda for Jewish educational professional development, the task of educational researchers should be to illuminate the contours of this emergent domain within the field: its demographics, pedagogies, audiences, and settings.
Perhaps the primary contribution of the Sensibilities curriculum for Jewish professional development, therefore, lies in its potential to spur further research into the field. The Sensibilities Framework offers a particular theorizing of not only the content but also the practices of Jewish education in this emergent domain that can be fruitful for developing a research agenda that fully appreciates the nuances of this particular segment of the Jewish educational landscape. As Kelman suggests, Jewish learning is not only a process of knowledge acquisition but a cultural practice of American Jews (Kelman, 2018, p. 66). By pursuing the research that can lead toward a better understanding of the culture of Jewish education in the context of Jewish professional development, we can more fully assess whether Judaism can indeed be learned as “Sensibility” and deployed and packaged in these terms by Jewish professionals seeking to engage others in the conversation.
Kelman, A. Y. (2018). Learning About Learning in Jewish Education. In J. Kress & J. A. Levisohn (Eds.), Advancing the learning Agenda in Jewish education (pp. 51–70). Boston, MA: Academic Studies Press.