AJS Conference Session
December 16, 12:00 to 1:30pm
Hilton Baltimore, Poe A/B
Panel: Jewish Education – For What? Twentieth Century Answers Compared
On the Origins and Persistence of the Jewish Identity Industry in Jewish Education
Jonathan Krasner, Mandel Center
Rethinking Jewish Identity and Education
Standard uses of “identity” by Jewish educators and policy-makers fail to capture the complex ways in which people understand their Jewish commitments, engage with Jewish communities, and enact Jewish practices.
So, 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 began that work by gathering together scholars, practitioners, policy makers and thinkers to focus on these questions:
- What does it mean to learn to inhabit or embody an identity or identities? What do we know about the ways that contemporary Jews do so?
- Where does the language of “Jewish identity” come from, when, and why? What work does it do for those who use it? What kind of educational efforts does it promote, and what does it inhibit?
- To the extent that the construct of “Jewish identity” no longer satisfies us, what alternatives are available – especially in conceptualizing the desirable outcomes of Jewish education?