Learning About Learning: Conversations with Scholars of Jewish Education
Join us virtually for a series of conversations hosted by MCSJE Director Jon A. Levisohn, in which leading scholars of Jewish education discuss what they have learned from their investigations of various aspects of Jewish education and why it matters.
These events are free and open to the public. Registration is required.
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January 18, 2024
Like other immigrants, many Israeli expatriates find themselves asking how they can maintain their culture on American soil. But what happens when their children learn their heritage language in American educational settings? In this session, Hannah Kober will discuss the surprising finding from her recent research that the long-held narrative about Israeli-Americans as producers of Hebrew language education, and not as consumers, needs reconsideration.
February 8, 2024
Over the last two decades, talk of Yiddish as an alternate path of engaging with Jewishness comes up in the Jewish press almost cyclically — a journalistic evergreen. In this session, historian and Yiddish podcaster Sandra Fox will explain how Yiddish became culturally significant, why young people are flocking to learn Yiddish in larger numbers than ever before, and what the growth of Yiddish says about American Jewish youth culture.
More information can be found in her article, 'The Passionate Few': Youth and Yiddishism in American Jewish Culture, 1964 to Present.
April 11, 2024
What happens when students of classical Jewish texts encounter visual representations of those texts, not just words? In her recent study Reconsidering Religious Gender Normativity in Graphic Novel Adaptations, Talia Hurwich learned that students often respond in deeply personal ways to visual representations of topics that may otherwise be suppressed by social norms around Jewish texts and practices. In this session, she will discuss the role graphic novels can play in mediating between traditional religious practices and modern social change.
Click on the link to jump to the event description and video.
Learning About Learning: A Conversation with...
- Sharon Avni — Accentuating the Jewish Hebrew Speaker
- Mijal Bitton — How Jewish Communities Educate
- Judah Cohen — How Debbie Friedman (and CAJE) Gave Jewish Education a New Soundtrack
- Esther Friedman - Navigating Ideological Differences in Pluralistic Jewish Schools
- Anna Hartman — Children's Theories About Judaism
- Ziva Hassenfeld — Why Jewish Day Schools Should Teach Students to Read Torah
- Miriam Heller Stern — How the Study of Jewish History Informs the Arts
- Ilana Horwitz — What Girls Learn in Jewish Families
- Meredith Katz — How Do Jewish Day School Kids Think About the Holocaust?
- Ari Y. Kelman — What Can We Learn From Jewish Education?
- Jonathan Krasner — How Camp Ramah Met the Challenges of the 1990s
- Judd Levingston - Getting Serious About Play in Jewish Education
- Jon Levisohn — What We Can Learn from Seymour Fox and the Visions of Jewish Education Project
- Laura Yares — Learning at a Jewish Museum
- Laura Yares —What 19th Century Jewish Education Can Teach Us about Jewish Education Today
December 7, 2023
How and why does the ability to navigate ideological differences within classrooms matter to Jewish education — and beyond? In this session, Esther Friedman will discuss her recent study on the lived experiences of Orthodox teachers who teach Bible in pluralistic community schools and the institutional-level challenges they face.
November 15, 2023
Beyond lifting the spirits of teachers and students, play in Jewish education spaces can also shape moral development and character. Drawing from his new research, Judd Kruger Levingston shares how teachers and administrators can cultivate "a moral ecology of play" in classrooms, hallways, gathering spaces, and playgrounds. In this session, Levingston speaks about ways in which a wide variety of approaches to play across the curriculum and throughout a school's culture can transform a young person's values and moral outlook.
October 19, 2023
Most histories of American Jewish education deride 19th-century Jewish Sunday schools. But when Laura Yares looked more closely at the curricula, the operative philosophies and the experiences that students and teachers had in these schools, she found that they did important cultural work. In this session, she discusses her recent book, Jewish Sunday Schools: Teaching Religion in Nineteenth-Century America, and describes what educators can learn from this pioneering generation in American Jewish education..
May 3, 2023
In the 1990s and the early 2000s, Jewish educators and educational institutions started talking about "vision" in a new way, prompted by the efforts of the Mandel Foundation and especially its influential leader Seymour Fox. For many, the publication of "Visions of Jewish Education" (2003) was a landmark event in the field. Jon A. Levisohn discusses an article in which he analyzes how Fox's ideas about vision in Jewish education developed over time, some of the challenges that he encountered, and what we can still learn from them. This session is led by Professor Jonathan Krasner (MCSJE).
March 15, 2023
In the past, Jewish families, like many others, offered girls fewer educational opportunities than boys. But that has not been the case for some time now. In her recent scholarship, Ilana Horwitz demonstrates the ways that girls raised by Jewish parents complete more years of college and attend more selective schools than girls from comparable socioeconomic backgrounds raised by non-Jewish parents. She argues that this is based on a distinctive "religious subculture" in the home.
More information can be found in her article, "From Bat Mitzvah to the Bar: Religious Habitus, Self-Concept, and Women's Educational Outcomes" (American Sociological Review, Feb. 28, 2022).
February 8, 2023
Children's ideas about the world are rich, nuanced, sometimes amusing and surprising, and for Anna Hartman, always fascinating. In this session, she shares her doctoral research in the field of early childhood Jewish education, in which she explores the theories about Judaism that are held by young children, and provides a window into their process of exploring and participating in Jewish life.
December 7, 2022
Jewish day schools expend significant time and energy in teaching Torah. But what are they trying to accomplish in this work? In this session, Ziva Hassenfeld discusses her soon-to-be published research on students' learning to read Torah, in order to argue that Jewish day schools can induct students into a way of reading texts that will serve them in all endeavors, from their academic studies to text messaging with friends.
November 17, 2022
In this session, Judah Cohen discusses his recent article on the crucial role that Debbie Friedman played in making song leading a core part of the Coalition for Alternatives in Jewish Education (CAJE). He also addresses the changes in Jewish education that resulted from this alliance, and why it still matters.
October 27, 2022
Holocaust education is a staple of Jewish day school education. What messages do day school students take from this education? In this session, Meredith Katz discusses her recently published study, which explores how a group of day school kids navigated questions of particularism and universalism, and how Holocaust education helped them to see themselves as civic actors in the broader community.
May 4, 2022
Most analyses of Jewish education, like most analyses of general education in Western, liberal society, emphasize the individual student. But some communities approach education very differently. Mijal Bitton discusses her research into how the Syrian Jewish community educates its members, formally and informally, to maintain bonds of commitment.
April 11, 2022
The term "Jewish education" is used to refer to a broad array of practices, approaches and institutions. Ari Kelman has written a new book, "What Can We Learn From Jewish Education," forthcoming from Rutgers University Press in its Key Words in Jewish Studies series. The series includes books designed to "provide clear and judiciously illustrated accounts of terms currently in use and to chart histories of past usage." In this conversation, Kelman talks about a broad shift from what Jewish education has meant, in modernity, to what it might mean for Jewish life in the 21st century.
March 10, 2022
What can we learn about society, people's relationship with Israel, Jewish people, and themselves, through Hebrew accents? Possibly quite a bit! This conversation focuses on Sharon Avni's recent work on how the everyday acts of speaking, learning and engaging with modern Hebrew inform our understanding of contemporary American Jewish life.
December 10, 2021
How does a Jewish theater company draw upon Jewish history to wrestle artistically with universal human questions? How do they weave new narratives through the work of interpretation? Miriam Heller Stern, in recent work published as a chapter of the edited volume, "Portraits of Adult Jewish Learning: Making Meaning at Many Tables," addresses these questions and analyzes how the model of a creative company can be a powerful way of conceiving of adult Jewish learning.
November 11, 2021
What happens when young adults visit a Jewish museum? What do they learn about Jews and Judaism, and how are they changed by what they see, touch, hear and feel? In this talk, Laura Yares discusses findings from a study of 30 young adult visitors to the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, and describes the rich learning that can occur in episodic, leisure time Jewish educational settings.
October 14, 2021
The Jewish overnight camping industry was on the verge of major changes in the late 1980s, when Shelly Dorph became the head of the Ramah National Commission. Jonathan Krasner discusses the case of Ramah and how it reflects on the challenges and opportunities that Jewish non-profit summer camps faced in the 1990s and early 2000s, and what it means for Jewish camps today.