2012 Teacher Forum Participant

Each semester the Mandel Center offers a full schedule of events at which educators, scholars and members of the community can learn about new work in Jewish education research and exchange ideas.

The 2014-15 schedule of public events will be available in late summer.

Recent Events

Uncovering the Hidden Resources for Deep Text Learning

Orit Kent and Allison CookLunch Seminar with Orit Kent and Allison Cook

Wednesday, May 7

What can deep Jewish learning look like and what resources do learners use to help make it possible? Using video and classroom artifacts, Orit Kent and Allison Cook zoomed in on an episode of two 7th graders studying Jewish texts in order to uncover the educational resources they bring to bear in this instance of deep learning. They also explored select pedagogical elements that were developed to support this learning.

Orit Kent is senior research associate at the Mandel Center, where she directs the Beit Midrash Research Project and does research on pedagogical approaches to havruta text study and student learning.  She draws on her research to help teachers create learning environments that foster high quality study of Jewish texts and values. 

Allison Cook is a project associate with the Beit Midrash Research Project. Allison has years of experience as a teacher-educator, curriculum and program designer and teacher of children and adults. Allison is also currently on the faculty of Hebrew College's Congregational Education Initiative as well as The Early Childhood Initiative, teaching both pedagogy and Jewish studies to program directors and teachers.

For Everything There is a Season: A Time to Act and American Jewish Education 

Jonathan Krasner

Lunch Seminar with Jonathan Krasner

Wednesday, April 9
The late 1980s-early 1990s are often identified as the moment when Jewish education rose to the top of the communal agenda. Symptomatic (and arguably a catalyst) of this re-prioritization was the convening  of the Commission on Jewish Education in North America. Convened by philanthropist and community leader Morton Mandel, the commission, which included leading philanthropists, academics, rabbis and educators, met between 1988-1990 and issued an landmark report on Jewish education, "A Time to Act."
Jonathan Krasner, a visiting scholar at the Joseph, Jack and Morton Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education, and associate professor of Jewish history and education at Hebrew Union College, discussed the origins and impact of the Commission and "A Time to Act," and invited us to reflect on the extent to which the issues and priorities that preoccupied commissioners and staff members twenty-five years ago continue to resonate today.  

Conference on Rethinking Jewish Identity and Jewish Education

March 30-31, 2014

If Jewish education is to respond to the needs of American Jews and their communities in the 21st century, we need to rethink the assumption that Jewish identity is the goal of Jewish education. This conference gathered scholars, practitioners, policy makers and thinkers to focus on a set of questions that examine what we mean by "Jewish identity" and what alternatives are available for conceptualizing and assessing the outcomes of Jewish education.

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Experiential Jewish Education at a Crossroads: A Conversation about Future Directions

Jeffrey Kress

Lunch Seminar with Jeffrey Kress
Wednesday, March 19

There is evidence – in the form of increased research, funding, and training programs – of growing interest in the area of experiential Jewish education (EJE). While EJE is not new, efforts to define the construct (and, in particular, to distinguish it from informal Jewish education) have helped strengthen our understanding of it. The question of the distinctiveness of EJE from Jewish education in general, a recurring theme in the literature, continues to be relevant. In this session, Jeffrey Kress shared ideas about, and led discussion of, the pros and cons (both conceptual and strategic) of maintaining EJE as a distinct area within Jewish education.

Jeffrey S. Kress is associate professor and area coordinator of Jewish Education, and academic director of the Experiential Learning Initiative at the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education of The Jewish Theological Seminary. His interests include developmental issues in Jewish education; program implementation; and the varied social, emotional, and spiritual elements of Jewish educational contexts. He is the author of Development, Learning, and Community: Educating for Identity in Pluralistic Jewish High Schools (Academic Studies Press, 2012) and is editor of Growing Jewish Minds, Growing Jewish Hearts: Promoting Spiritual, Social, and Emotional Growth in Jewish Education (URJ Press, 2012).

Wonder of Wonders:
A Cultural History of "Fiddler on the Roof"
An afternoon with author Alisa Solomon

February 25, 2014, 4-6 pmBook cover
Rapaporte Treasure Hall

Theater critic and scholar Alisa Solomon discusses why a show about tradition has itself become a tradition, and shares reflections on the writing of her new book, Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of "Fiddler on the Roof."

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The Moral Dilemmas of Teaching: Small Moments that Matter

6th Annual Mandel Center Teacher Forum
with Anna Richert

Anna RichertsSunday, January 26, 2014

Join us for a stimulating workshop as we explore the moral dilemmas of teaching with Anna Richert, Mills College Education professor and author of What Should I Do? Confronting Dilemmas of Teaching in Urban Schools.

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What's a Jewish Camp Director to do? Setting Priorities for Educational Leadership at Camp 

Lunch Seminar with Joseph Reimer

Joe ReimerWednesday, December 4

Two contrasting visions for leadership at Jewish camps have been articulated. One focuses on the camp director as the educator-in-chief and the other as the producer of a great show. Clearly these visions set different leadership priorities. How can future research on Jewish camps help guide the choices that camp leaders need to make to ensure they are running camps that are both financially healthy and educationally effective?

Joseph Reimer is an Associate Professor in Jewish Education who splits his teaching and advising time between the Education and Hornstein Programs. He also serves as faculty advisor to the Office for High School Programs at Brandeis. Trained at Harvard as a developmental psychologist, he currently focuses his research on experiential Jewish learning, Jewish camping, and the professional development of educators. His book, Succeeding at Jewish Education, won the National Jewish Book Award in 1997. His recent publications have focused on leadership in Jewish summer camps.

'Show Me Your Badge': The Educational Potential of an Emerging Alternative Assessment

Lunch Seminar with Sam Abramovich 98', U at Buffalo

Sam AbramovichWednesday, November 13

Educational stakeholders, armed with technological innovations, are now challenging established methods of educational assessment. For example, Mozilla and the MacArthur Foundation have begun to explore badges and badging systems as a way to connect and enhance learner interests. And while the implementation of educational badges is underway by many organizations, the Jewish Day School movement is currently leading the way in terms of badge design and use. A Jewish Day School has one of the most advanced badge implementations for formal K-12 education in the United States while other schools are implementing badge systems for use in teacher professional development.

However, the research community is just now beginning to uncover how badges can best serve students. As one of the first researchers exploring the educational potential of badges, Sam Abramovich will share the results of two studies examining badge system design and impact. His findings indicate that different types of badges affected different types of learners’ motivation depending on the abilities of the learners. He has also found that educational badges rely on interdependence between reward, student interest, and recognition. In addition, he will discuss the future growth of educational badges both inside and outside of Jewish education as well as share preliminary results from an analysis of badges used for Jewish Day School teacher professional development.

Dialogue and Discourse: The Ongoing Relevance of Martin Buber's Thoughts on Education

Lunch Seminar with Ursula Reitemeyer, University of Munster

Ursula ReitemeyerWednesday, October 2

Democracy and participation in a Civil Society require a political and educational theory of inclusion. Our present school systems, however, using examinations and other "standards" for promotion and assessment are, at heart, functionally exclusive. According to Buber, teachers need to accord each student with whom they interact, at whatever level, a respect for his or her ideas, however uninformed they may be. This includes less-mature learners and people new to a field or domain of expertise. Martin Buber’s dialogic understanding of education, based on the principle of pedagogic inclusion, has not lost its relevance in the pedagogic discourse about democratic and moral education, not even when we consider that Buber understands inclusion as one-sided and asymmetrical when practiced by the teacher. 

Ursula Reitemeyer is professor in the department of Educational Theory and Research at the University of Munster in Germany. Her fields of study include Philosophy of Enlightenment; Philosophy of the 19th und 20th Century; Theory of Modern Education; Ethics; and German-Jewish Philosophy during the Weimar Republic. She edits the series Ethics in Education and International Feuerbach Research.

A Model of Teacher Development Grounded in Teaching Practice:
Report on a Study Visit to the University of Michigan

Lunch Seminar with Nili Pearlmutter

Nili PearlmutterWednesday, September 18

The University of Michigan has two unique summer programs, one for novice teachers in their elementary MAT program and one for experienced math educators. What ties them together is their use of teaching practice as the central site for learning and their use of technology to support reflection and research on teaching. Nili Pearlmutter described these two innovative programs, reflected on their impact on her practice as a teacher educator, and led a discussion on possible implications for teacher education at Brandeis and beyond.

Nili Pearlmutter is a Senior Education Specialist in the Delet/MAT program. She teaches the Fundamentals of Teaching course and serves as director of field experiences. She has served as a field instructor for pre-service teachers, taught the Reflective Teaching seminar in the MAT-JDS program, co-facilitated a beginning teacher's study group, and worked with the Teacher Learning Project to help schools implement systems and practices that support and develop beginning teachers and make schools good places for all teachers to teach and learn.