More information

Final report, by Arielle Levites

Phase II report: "Students' Understanding of Rabbinics," by Arielle Levites.

Phase I report: "A Text That is Never Resolved: Skills, Knowledge and Personal Meaning in Students' Experiences of Rabbinic Literature," by Beth Cousens

Paper: Arielle Levites, "Worth Knowing: Talmud Study and the Intellectual Values of High School Students at Liberal Jewish Day Schools." Journal of Jewish Education 86:1, Spring 2020, 65-93.

Contact: Arielle Levites, project leader

Students' Understanding of Rabbinics

Final report of the Students' Understanding of Rabbinics project now available.

What have alumni of Jewish day schools learned, in the field of rabbinics? What do they understand about Talmud or other rabbinic literature? How do they conceptualize the subject, how do they think about its significance, and how do they feel about their learning?

Cover of the report Students' Understanding of RabbinicsWhile the study of rabbinic literature is a central component of the Jewish day school curriculum in both liberal and Orthodox schools, we knew almost nothing about what students have learned, what they understand, or how they think. Educators and researchers therefore lack the empirical basis to articulate sound educational goals for this subject. 

In the first phase of this project, we examined students' understanding of rabbinics by gathering interview data from new day school alumni, with input from scholars, teachers and other subject matter experts. The second phase explored what students in Jewish day schools learn about rabbinics in high school. What do they believe comprises rabbinics, its subject matter, activities, and discourses in their schools? What do they see as the purpose(s) of engaging in the study of rabbinics? How do students understand their own learning, and what do they think they know about and know how to do in relation to rabbinic literature?

Reports on the findings from Phase I and Phase II are now available, in addition to the final report. The research project was a partnership between the Mandel Center and The Davidson School at Jewish Theological Seminary. In addition to developing a knowledge base for the field of rabbinics education in general, the project was designed to support the ongoing development of standard and benchmarks in rabbinics, as part of the Jewish Day School Standards and Benchmarks Project. Well-informed, clearly-articulated goals will drive better work in the classroom, more meaningful assessment and more relevant professional development for educators.

Project leader: Arielle Levites

Research assistant: Joshua Ladon

This project was supported in part by CASJE, in partnership with the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education.