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Faculty & Staff
Jon A. Levisohn
Associate Academic Director
Associate Professor in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies
Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Chair in Jewish Educational Thought
Jon Levisohn is associate academic director of the Mandel Center and associate professor of Near Eastern & Judaic Studies and the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Chair of Jewish Educational Thought at Brandeis. He is also affiliated with the Philosophy Department, the Education Program and the Hornstein Program in Jewish Professional Leadership. He came to Brandeis from Stanford University in 2002. At the Mandel Center he currently leads the projects on Pedagogies of Engagement in Jewish Studies and Pedagogy Lishma: Using Studies of Teaching to Promote Learning.
As a philosopher of education, his research and writing have encompassed three broad areas. First, he has sought to bring a critical lens to issues in contemporary Jewish education (e.g., Jewish service-learning, promoting peoplehood, and curricular integration). In this work, he has argued that both theorists and practitioners ought to be emphasize the cultivation of moral and intellectual virtues over the transmission of knowledge.
Second, he has developed and led a research initiative at the Mandel Center on the teaching and learning of classical Jewish texts (Bible and rabbinic literature) in multiple settings, from early childhood through university. The Initiative on Bridging Scholarship and Pedagogy in Jewish Studies has involved a diverse set of educators in research seminars and large conferences, has generated a series of over two dozen working papers, and has produced an edited volume titled Turn It and Turn It Again: Studies in the Teaching and Learning of Classical Jewish Texts (Academic Studies Press, 2013).
Third, he has developed a set of ideas about the teaching and learning of general history, publishing several papers and a book titled The Interpretive Virtues: A Philosophical Inquiry into the Teaching and Learning of Historical Narratives (Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming).
Within NEJS, he teaches:
- A Philosophical Introduction to Judaism (NEJS 156b), which explores a set of issues that are central to Jewish thought and practice;
- Studying Sacred Texts (NEJS 170a), which incorporates modern European intellectual history, comparative religion, and hermeneutics;
- Tikkun Olam/Repairing the World: Service and Social Justice in Theory and Practice (NEJS 171b), which explores the practical and conceptual challenges of trying to make a positive difference in the world;
- Philosophy of Jewish Education (NEJS 235b), which examines animating ideas behind diverse Jewish educational visions.
He also teaches Introduction to Philosophy of Education (EDUC 159b) and Philosophy of the Humanities (PHIL 148b).
In addition to his university teaching, he has taught Jewish Studies in a day school, in supplementary schools, and in adult education programs. An alumnus of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship program, he holds graduate degrees from Stanford in Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Philosophy of Education. He is active in the Network for Research in Jewish Education (and will serve as chair of the NRJE annual conference in 2014), the Philosophy of Education Society, and the Association for Jewish Studies. He has been a fellow of the North American Scholars Circle of the Shalom Hartman Institute and of the Jewish Studies Service-Learning Initiative of Repair the World, and served as a research fellow of the Jacobson Family Foundation.