Beyond Engagement of Religious Nones: Jewish Learning Through the Cultural Arts

A mixed-age group looking at museum exhibits about American Jewish history.National Museum of American Jewish History ©G. Widman/Visit Philadelphia

What happens when Jewishly-identified visitors participate in Jewish cultural arts experiences? What do they learn about themselves, and about Judaism as a communal experience? How are they changed by what they see, touch, hear or taste?

This project focuses on the distinctive forms of Jewish learning that can occur when individuals and groups experience the cultural arts. Learning in cultural arts contexts is a broad field of inquiry, inclusive of both content transmission (learning new information), as well as learning about self, identity and community. Focused on adult learners, this project utilizes ethnographic research methods — including interviews, participant observation and observational fieldwork — to explore how Jews learn about Judaism outside of formal classroom settings and during leisure time.

This project is currently exploring learning experiences across five focus areas:

Research for this project began in 2019 with a study of 30 young adult visitors to the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Publication of data from this research is forthcoming.