Lila Corwin Berman, of Temple University, and Noam Pianko, of the University of Washington, contribute this entry to our series from the Pedagogies of Engagement in Jewish Studies seminar.
In 1939, sociologist Robert Lynd published a polemical book called Knowledge for What? The book was a call to rethink why scholars studied what they did, and what their work had to do with the world in which they lived, and it came to mind as we thought about gathering a group of Jewish studies directors together. We found ourselves asking, “Jewish studies for what?” Continue Reading »
Teacher retention and effectiveness stem from a clear vision of good teaching, strong alignment between coursework and field experiences, a focus on subject matter preparation, and a year-long internship. That view is supported by a new report from the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education and funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation, which finds that graduates of the DeLeT (Day School Leadership Through Teaching) Program at Brandeis University and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion feel well prepared for their responsibilities as day school teachers.
The report comes from the Longitudinal Survey of Day School Teachers, which has been tracking the careers of DeLeT alumni since 2007. Previous reports described graduates’ backgrounds and views of day school teaching, the factors influencing their decisions over time to stay in teaching or leave the classroom, and the opportunities and challenges they face in their schools.
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Jon A. Levisohn is director of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education, and the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Professor of Jewish Educational Thought, at Brandeis University. This post is an abbreviated version of his recent article, “A New Theory of Vision,” in HaYidion.
My colleague Danny Lehmann has shared some constructive, generative ideas for Jewish education in the 21st century in his recent article in HaYidion, in which he argues for creativity, hybridity, transformative spirituality, and more. Do these ideas constitute a vision? Well, that depends. Continue Reading »
Sarah Benor, associate professor of contemporary Jewish studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, contributes this entry to our series from the Pedagogies of Engagement in Jewish Studies seminar. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I became interested in Jewish languages as a college student. Initially I had only heard of Yiddish, Ladino (Judeo-Spanish), and Judeo-Arabic, but eventually I learned about endangered languages/dialects like Judeo-Greek, Judeo-Malayalam (from Southern India), and Judeo-Tadjik (Bukharan, from Uzbekistan), as well as emerging languages/dialects like Jewish English, Jewish French, and Jewish Hungarian. For the past two decades, I have been researching and teaching about the phenomenon of Jewish languages, and I find great satisfaction in sharing what I’ve learned with scholars and students.
But classroom teaching, academic publications, and conference presentations have limited reach. Only a few dozen students each year encounter my ideas in the classroom, and given that linguistics and Jewish studies are both small fields, maybe a few hundred people hear my presentations or read my articles. Continue Reading »
Barry Wimpfheimer, associate professor of religious studies at Northwestern, contributes this entry to our series from the Pedagogies of Engagement in Jewish Studies seminar.
As Director of The Crown Family Center for Jewish and Israel Studies at Northwestern University, I have insisted on a division of labor between Jewish Studies and Hillel. Jewish Studies is the site for the study of Judaism, Jews and Jewishness while Hillel is the place for exploring Jewish identity and finding community.
This division of labor benefits both parties. Hillel is able to unabashedly promote a vision of Judaism and Jewish commitment. That vision is broad and pluralistic, to be sure, but it emphasizes Jewish exceptionalism. In this way, Hillel harnesses the resources of community and university to advocate for Jewish interests on campus and beyond.
Jewish Studies, on the other hand, can invite students of all ethnic and religious identities to explore Jewish literature and the history of Jewish religion and culture without the limitation of promoting Judaism or Jewish cultural affiliation. Enrollments are increased when we target both Jewish and non-Jewish students. The history of the Jewish religion, culture and people is easily integrated in the humanities curriculum. Perhaps most fundamentally, Jewish Studies scholars are free to explore aspects of Jewish history, religion or culture that do not support the program of Jewish exceptionalism or continuity.
But is it possible that the division of labor has negative ramifications as well? Continue Reading »