Learning Agenda Project

Image of the cover of Advancing the Learning Agenda in Jewish education, showing a spiral staircase from above.Now available: Advancing the Learning Agenda in Jewish Education, edited by Jon A. Levisohn and Jeffrey S. Kress (2018, Academic Studies Press).

What is the biggest challenge facing Jewish education today?

We believe that Jewish educators, policy makers, and curriculum and program designers are flying blind.

Too often, across the various settings of Jewish education, we are unclear or imprecise or just unsophisticated about our desired learning outcomes. We lack the language to articulate those outcomes in compelling ways, in terms of knowledge and skills but also in terms of dispositions, both moral and intellectual. We assess outcomes inconsistently or not at all, in part because there are few if any effective instruments within Jewish education for assessing our most ambitious goals.

Nor is the problem limited to learning outcomes: We do not know enough about the learners, either. We lack a deep understanding of learners’ or participants’ understanding of the subjects that we teach, or of what sense they make of their formal or informal educational experiences. We do what is expedient or what seems like it might be engaging, but we actually know very little about what students think or feel, how learners learn whatever it is that we are trying to teach, what they understand about specific subjects or about their place in the world, or what they can do as a result of the learning opportunities constructed for them by Jewish educators.

The Learning Agenda project  brought together researchers in Jewish and general education to share their perspectives on how to advance the learning agenda in Jewish education. They presented their draft essays at a March 2015 conference.


Jeffrey Kress, Jewish Theological Seminary of America

Jon A. Levisohn, Mandel Center


Rena Dorph
Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley
Activating Jewish Learners: Positioning Youth for Persistent Success in Jewish Learning and Living
Eli Gottlieb
Mandel Leadership Institute
Learning How to Believe: Why Religious Beliefs and Attitudes Require Different Kinds of Learning
Ari Y. Kelman
Stanford University
Learning to be Jewish
Janet Kolodner
Georgia Tech
Fostering Identity and Disposition Development in Jewish Education: A View From the Learning Sciences
Gil Noam
Harvard University
Socio-Emotional Skills in Children and Youth:  An Approach for Students Involved in Jewish Education
Joseph Reimer
Brandeis University
Learning the Whole Game of Shabbat
Lauren Resnick
University of Pittsburgh, and
Daniel Resnick
Carnegie-Mellon University
How Text Study Can be Reclaimed as a Vehicle for Advancing Contemporary Education and Community Engagement
Baruch Schwartz
Hebrew University
Observing Havruta Learning From the Perspective of the Learning Sciences
Simone Schweber
University of Wisconsin
Learning about Learning at the Imaginative Extremes: Shoah Education and its Implications for Jewish Education
Sam Wineburg
Stanford University
"Is This a Real Story?" Learning and the Narratives of Jewish Identity

Additional conference participants:

Sharon Avni, CUNY

Fern Chertok, Brandeis University

Sharon Feiman-Nemser, Brandeis University

Michael Feuer, The George Washington University

Lisa Grant, HUC-JIR

Jane Kanarek, Hebrew College

Orit Kent, Brandeis University

Moshe Krakowski, Yeshiva University

Jonathan Krasner, Brandeis University

Marjorie Lehman, Jewish Theological Seminary

Ted Sasson, Brandeis University