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Prof. Jane Kanarek

Prof. Marjorie Lehman

Learning to Read Talmud

What it Looks Like and How it Happens
Talmud texts

Reading Talmud requires sophisticated textual interpretive abilities and has its own particular characteristics.  But, how do students learn to read Talmud? How can we assess that process?  What can we learn about the pedagogic practices that foster successful reading of Talmud?  

Drawing on a relatively new and growing body of scholarship in the field of Talmud pedagogy, this project builds on the earlier Initiative on Bridging Scholarship and Pedagogy in Jewish Studies in two ways:

  • It continues and deepens the Bridging Initiative's focus on the teaching and learning of classical Jewish texts.
  • It recruits creative and thoughtful instructors of Talmud to study their own practice and their students' learning.

Learning to Read Talmud: What it Looks Like and How it Happens, a forthcoming (late summer 2016) volume based on the work of the project and edited by Jane L. Kanarek and Marjorie Lehman, offers studies of courses that develop further an understanding of how students learn to read Talmud. The goal is to help instructors in multiple settings improve their practice.

In anticipation of the book, in June we will gather a small cohort of scholars of rabbinic literature to examine what it means to learn to read Talmud and how we teach our students to do so. Drawing on a relatively new and growing body of research that seeks to bridge the worlds of academic Talmud scholarship and scholarship on pedagogy, we are interested in thinking together about how our students construct their understandings of Talmud and how we, as scholars and teachers, help them to do that. We want to move beyond impressionistic understandings of our teaching and investigate what we mean by learning to read Talmud and the ways in which we translate our different understandings into our diverse classrooms.


Learning to Read Talmud: What it Looks Like and How it Happens Jane L. Kanarek and Marjorie Lehman
Stop Making Sense: Using Text Guides to Help Students Learn to Read Talmud Beth A. Berkowitz
Looking for Problems: A Pedagogic Quest for Difficulties Ethan Tucker
What Others Have to Say: Secondary Readings and Learning to Read Talmud Jane L. Kanarek
And No One Gave the Torah to the Priests: Reading the Mishnah's Reference to the Priests and the Temple Marjorie Lehman
Talmud for Non-Rabbis: Teaching Graduate Students in the Academy Gregg E. Gardner
When Cultural Assumptions About Texts and Reading Fail: Teaching Talmud as Liberal Arts Elizabeth Shanks Alexander
"Talmud in the Mouth": Oral Recitation and Repetition Through the Ages and in Today's Classroom Jonathan Milgram
Talmud That Works Your Heart: New Approaches to Reading Sarra Lev
Postscript: What We Have Learned About Learning to Read Talmud Jon A. Levisohn

Project co-directors: Jane L. Kanarek and Marjorie Lehman