Spotlight Sessions

Join us virtually as we shine a spotlight on an important area of focus in Jewish education, bringing together several scholars and/or practitioners with diverse perspectives for a shared conversation that will deepen our understanding.

These events are free and open to the public but registration is required.

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Upcoming Events

Cartoon image of a globe wearing a graduate cap and surrounded by text books
Spotlight on the Gap Year

February 29, 2024

1-2:15 pm via Zoom

For over a generation, many American Jewish young adults have spent a year between high school and college in Israel—the “gap year.” How does the gap year contribute to North American Jewish education? How does it complicate that work? What does it mean for young adults to go from “here" to “there" to participate in this important educational experience? What do we know about the spiritual, intellectual, and emotional growth of those who do a gap year? What are the elements that contribute to growth among participants in the gap year, and what are the impediments to growth?

This session brings together:  Shalom Berger (Herzog College), Jonathan Schwab (Yeshiva University), Tilly Shemer (Shalom Hartman Institute), and Amy Weinreb (Masa Israel Journey) in conversation with Jon Levisohn.

VIDEO AND PODCAST AVAILABLE SOON

Past Sessions

Head shots of 5 faculty members with a logo reading Celebrating Brandeis at 75
Spotlight on Jewish Learning: Past, Present and Future | A panel of Brandeis faculty in recognition of the University’s 75th anniversary

November 30, 2023

Panelists: Sharon Feiman-NemserZiva HassenfeldJonathan KrasnerJon Levisohn, and Joe Reimer

What have we learned about Jewish learning in the past, where are we today, and what do we still need to learn for the future? Join MCSJE for this special Spotlight Session in honor of Brandeis University’s 75th anniversary, at which Brandeis scholars of Jewish education shared some of the most important developments in the field of Jewish education and why they matter for the flourishing of individual students and the vibrancy of the Jewish community.

watch "spotlight on jewish learning" on youtube

Listen to "Spotlight on Jewish learning" Podcast Episode

Group of people talking with blank conversation bubbles
Spotlight on Mahloket

February 28, 2023

Mahloket — that is, dispute or principled debate — has long been celebrated as a Jewish ideal, not only within Jewish texts (where sages debate laws, interpretations and principles) but within the practice of engagement with those texts (where, for example, students might engage in debate about laws, interpretations or about principles). What does Mahloket look like at its best? How does Mahloket function as a kind of signature pedagogy (or at least a signature practice) within Jewish education? What does it mean to "educate for Mahloket" and what are the benefits and challenges of doing so? In what ways is Mahloket a model for substantive engagement across difference?

This session brings together: Aaron Dorfman (A More Perfect Union: The Jewish Partnership for Democracy), Robbie Gringras (educator, performer and writer For the Sake of Argument), Orit Kent (Pedagogy of Partnership powered by Hadar), Abi Dauber Sterne (For the Sake of Argument), and Mike Uram (Jewish Federations of North America), in conversation with Jon Levisohn (Brandeis University). 

Watch "Spotlight on Mahloket" on YouTube

Listen to "Spotlight on Mahloket" Podcast Episode

Title graphic "Art and Artistry"
Spotlight on Art and Artistry as Jewish Learning

October 20, 2022

What is the relationship between art and artistry on the one hand, and Jewish education on the other? In what ways might we think about engagement with Jewish art and culture as a kind of Jewish learning? Building on the 2022 Mandel Center spring conference, Art and Artistry as Jewish Learning, this Spotlight Session brings together conference chairs Laura Yares (Michigan State University and director of the MCSJE project on Jewish Learning Through the Cultural Arts and Galeet Dardashti (NYU), along with Eva Heinstein (Mandel Foundation), Miriam Heller Stern (HUC), and Laura Mandel (Jewish Arts Collaborative), to explore these questions and their significance for the field of Jewish education.

Watch "Spotlight on Art and Artistry as Jewish Learning" on YouTube

Three people discussing at a table

Photo Credit: Hadar

Spotlight on Daf Yomi

February 1, 2022

Rabbi Professor Jane Kanarek (Hebrew College), Rabbi Avi Killip (Hadar), Professor Barry Wimpfheimer (Northwestern), Sara Wolkenfeld (Sefaria), moderated by Professor Jon Levisohn (Brandeis University).

For decades following its invention in 1923, Daf Yomi was practiced by experienced, mostly haredi Talmud scholars, and criticized by many as well. Over time, the practice grew in popularity in that community. But in the 21st century, the practice has expanded dramatically, both in terms of the background of the participants and in terms of the very concept of what it means to "do the daf."

In this session, four highly experienced educators help us think about what Daf Yomi means, now, as a Jewish cultural or spiritual practice. What does it mean as a unifying practice (everyone who participates is "on the daf") that actually comprises many distinct and diverse practices? What does Daf Yomi represent, as a mode of engagement with the Jewish tradition that is both continuous and discontinuous with traditional modes of study? How does it bring people together in shared purpose? How does it meet individual needs or advance individual goals?

Watch "Spotlight on Daf Yomi" on YouTube

Listen to "Spotlight on Daf Yomi" Podcast Episode

Group of people sitting in a circle, looking at papers
Spotlight on Adult Jewish Learning

December 13, 2021

Sarra Alpert (Avodah), Rabba Yaffa Epstein (Wexner Foundation), Dr. Jane Shapiro (Orot: Center for Jewish Learning), Dr. Diane Tickton Schuster (Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education), moderated by Professor Jon Levisohn (Brandeis University).

Adult Jewish learning is flourishing in synagogues, JCCs, board tables, leadership cohorts, service cohorts and, of course, online. This session is an occasion to talk with a group of experienced educators about what they learned from their studies of adult Jewish learning opportunities — who the learners are, why they participate, what happens and how they grow or develop through the experience. It features insights gathered from the research they conducted for the Mandel Center's Portraits of Adult Jewish Learning project.

Watch "Spotlight on Adult Jewish Learning" on YouTube

Listen to "Spotlight on Adult Jewish Learning" Podcast Episode