Jewish Learning Through the Cultural Arts
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?
Photo Credit: G. Widman/Visit Philadelphia
Find out more about the findings of this study and view the Zoom video from the event, Learning About Learning: A Conversation with Professor Laura Yares | Learning at a Jewish Museum, where Project Director Laura Yares talked with Jon Levisohn.
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 affective learning about self, identity and community. Focused on adult learners, this project utilizes ethnographic research methods — including interviews, observational and digital fieldwork, audio diaries, and content analysis — to explore how learning about Judaism happens outside of formal classroom settings and during leisure time.
The project seeks to explore learning experiences across five sites. In 2019 research began with a study of 30 young adult visitors to the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It has continued with the creation and reception of Saturday Night Seder (an online fundraiser and communal celebration of the Passover holiday), and a popular Facebook site for fans of the Israeli television series Shtisel. Additional sites will include Sephardic/Mizrachi music and visual arts creative experiences.
Yares, L. (2022). “The Material Inventories of Millennial Jewish Lives: Affective Learning and Jewish Consumer Culture at the National Museum of American Jewish History Gift Shop,” Material Religion.
Yares, L., & Avni, S. (2021). “'Saturday Night Seder' and the Affordances of Cultural Arts during COVID-19,” Contemporary Jewry.
Related Public Scholarship
For Theatergoers at Broadway’s Recent Spate of Jewish Shows, Attendance is a Form of Witness, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, April 13, 2023.
- Shtisel – Let’s Talk About It, University of Kentucky Arts & Sciences webinar, November 18, 2021.
- Jewish Learning Through the Cultural Arts, Tulane University Grant Center for the American Jewish Experience, September 29, 2021.
- Shtisel: How a TV Show on a Haredi Family has Enthralled Jews and non-Jews, The Jerusalem Post, April 15, 2021.
- Television: Let's Talk About It, reflection blog in Digital Fieldwork, June 18, 2021.