Learning to Read Talmud Workshop

June 7–8, 2016
Project co-directors: Prof. Jane Kanarek and Prof. Marjorie Lehman

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 was built on the earlier Initiative on Bridging Scholarship and Pedagogy in Jewish Studies in two ways:

Learning to Read Talmud: What it Looks Like and How it Happens,” a 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 was to help instructors in multiple settings improve their practice.

We gathered 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 were 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 wanted to move beyond impressionistic understandings of our teaching and investigate what we meant by learning to read Talmud and the ways in which we translate our different understandings into our diverse classrooms.