Institute for Informal Jewish Education is helping educators explore Jewish experiential learning

WALTHAM, Mass. – Even though experiential education—where one learns about something by doing it—has been a part of Judaism for thousands of years, experts in the field have lamented the lack of analysis on this topic in a Jewish context. Now, thanks to a grant from the Covenant Foundation, the Institute for Informal Jewish Education (IJE) at Brandeis has published an anthology that will provide educators with a better understanding of how Jewish experiential learning works.

“At a time when Jewish communal support for providing powerful experiences such as a 10-day trip to Israel or a four-week stay at a Jewish camp is at its peak, there is much implicit recognition of the impact of experiential Jewish learning,” said IJE director Joseph Reimer. “But who looks under the hood of these powerful experiences and asks, ‘What allows them to work their magic?’ This volume addresses that question and offers intriguing glimpses into the engine that powers these experiential programs.”

Stemming directly from the IJE’s Jewish Experiential Learning seminar, the anthology presents a series of four case studies authored by seminar participants and an annotated bibliography. Each piece provides a different viewpoint on what Jewish experiential education is, and what makes it successful.

The IJE is uniquely positioned to study this field because of its partnership with the BIMA and Genesis programs for high school students that take place each summer at Brandeis. “BIMA and Genesis are essentially laboratories for experiential education,” said Bradley Solmsen, who directs both programs. “It’s not only the learning in the classroom, but the building of a Jewish community. How do you plan Shabbat, for example? You’re learning while you’re living it.”

To request a copy of “How Jewish Experiential Learning Works: An Anthology,” or to find out more about the Institute for Informal Jewish Education, visit the institute’s Web site at

About the Institute for Informal Jewish Education
The Institute for Informal Jewish Education’s mission is to support Jewish educators in creating meaningful Jewish experiences. The IJE supports Jewish educators through a range of professional development opportunities including pre-service experiences, in-service experiences related to educators’ practice, practitioner research, curriculum development and strategic organizational support.

About Genesis and BIMA
BIMA is a summer arts program for teenagers offering four core areas of artistic study: music (instrumental or vocal), visual arts, writing and theater. Participants have the opportunity to develop techniques, hone skills, enhance their ability to express themselves in their chosen medium, and collaborate artistically with other participants. For more information, visit

Genesis is a summer program that allows high school students to get a taste of college through courses, social action projects, community life and workshops that integrate Jewish exploration with intellectual challenge. For more information visit

About the Covenant Foundation
The Covenant Foundation honors outstanding Jewish educators and supports creative approaches to programming, while celebrating and building on existing strengths within the field of Jewish education in North America. For more information visit

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