Mandel Center For Studies In Jewish Education At Brandeis University public
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Learning About Learning: Conversations with Scholars of Jewish Education

Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis University

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There is great scholarship being done in the field of Jewish education, but it’s not always accessible. And even when it is, it’s not always obvious why people in the field of Jewish education should care about it. That’s what this podcast is about—making really interesting scholarship on Jewish education accessible and talking with scholars about why it matters. Learning About Learning draws on live conversations, originally conducted as Zoom webinars. Regular episodes feature discussions b ...
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Over the last two decades, talk of Yiddish as an alternate path of engaging with Jewishness comes up in the Jewish press almost cyclically — a journalistic evergreen. In this session, historian and Yiddish podcaster Sandra Fox explains how Yiddish became culturally significant, why young people are flocking to learn Yiddish in larger numbers than e…
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Like other immigrants, many Israeli expatriates find themselves asking how they can maintain their culture on American soil. But what happens when their children learn their heritage language in American educational settings? In this session, Hannah Kober will discusses the surprising finding from her recent research that the long-held narrative ab…
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How and why does the ability to navigate ideological differences within classrooms matter to Jewish education — and beyond? In this session, Esther Friedman will discuss her recent study on the lived experiences of Orthodox teachers who teach Bible in pluralistic community schools and the institutional-level challenges they face. Originally recorde…
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What have we learned about Jewish learning in the past, where are we today, and what do we still need to learn for the future? Join MCSJE for this special Spotlight Session in honor of Brandeis University’s 75th anniversary, at which Brandeis scholars of Jewish education shared some of the most important developments in the field of Jewish educatio…
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Beyond lifting the spirits of teachers and students, play in Jewish education spaces can also shape moral development and character. Drawing from his new research, Judd Kruger Levingston shares how teachers and administrators can cultivate "a moral ecology of play" in classrooms, hallways, gathering spaces, and playgrounds. In this session, Levings…
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Most histories of American Jewish education deride 19th-century Jewish Sunday schools. But when Laura Yares looked more closely at the curricula, the operative philosophies and the experiences that students and teachers had in these schools, she found that they did important cultural work. In this session, she discusses her recent book, Jewish Sund…
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In the 1990s and the early 2000s, Jewish educators and educational institutions started talking about “vision” in a new way, prompted by the efforts of the Mandel Foundation and especially its influential leader Seymour Fox. For many, the publication of Visions of Jewish Education (2003) was a landmark event in the field. Jon A. Levisohn discusses …
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In the past, Jewish families, like many others, offered girls fewer educational opportunities than boys. But that has not been the case for some time now. In her recent scholarship, Ilana Horwitz demonstrates the ways that girls raised by Jewish parents complete more years of college and attend more selective schools than girls from comparable soci…
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Mahloket—that is, dispute or principled debate—has long been celebrated as a Jewish ideal, not only within Jewish texts (where sages debate laws, interpretations and principles) but within the practice of engagement with those texts (where, for example, students might engage in debate about laws, interpretations or about principles). What does Mahl…
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Children’s ideas about the world are rich, nuanced, sometimes amusing and surprising, and for Anna Hartman, always fascinating. In this session, she shares her doctoral research in the field of early childhood Jewish education, in which she explores the theories about Judaism that are held by young children, and provides a window into their process…
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Jewish day schools expend significant time and energy in teaching Torah. But what are they trying to accomplish in this work? In this session, Ziva Hassenfeld discusses her soon-to-be published research on students’ learning to read Torah, in order to argue that Jewish day schools can induct students into a way of reading texts that will serve them…
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In this session, Judah Cohen discusses his recent article on the crucial role that Debbie Friedman played in making song leading a core part of the Coalition for Alternatives in Jewish Education (CAJE). He also addresses the changes in Jewish education that resulted from this alliance, and why it still matters. Originally recorded: 11/17/22 At the …
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Holocaust education is a staple of Jewish day school education. What messages do day school students take from this education? In this session, Meredith Katz discusses her recently published study, which explores how a group of day school kids navigated questions of particularism and universalism, and how Holocaust education helped them to see them…
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Sarra Alpert (Avodah), Rabba Yaffa Epstein (Wexner Foundation), Dr. Jane Shapiro (Orot: Center for Jewish Learning), Dr. Diane Tickton Schuster (Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education), moderated by Professor Jon Levisohn (Brandeis University). Adult Jewish learning is flourishing in synagogues, JCCs, board tables, leadership cohorts, servic…
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Rabbi Professor Jane Kanarek (Hebrew College), Rabbi Avi Killip (Hadar), Professor Barry Wimpfheimer (Northwestern), Sara Wolkenfeld (Sefaria), moderated by Professor Jon Levisohn (Brandeis University). For decades following its invention in 1923, Daf Yomi was practiced by experienced, mostly haredi Talmud scholars, and criticized by many as well. …
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What can we learn from carefully crafted portraits of nine well-regarded Jewish day schools that vary in size, location, sponsorship, ideological orientation? How do these schools go about their work and how do school leaders respond to the pressing challenges that day schools face in the 21st century? Authors Alex Pomson and Jack Wertheimer share …
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Israel has long occupied a prominent place in the lives and imaginations of American Jews, serving as both a symbolic touchstone and a source of intercommunal conflict. Sivan Zakai's book, My Second-Favorite Country: How American Jewish Children Think About Israel, is based on the major findings from her research project with MCSJE on Children's Le…
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The Jewish overnight camping industry was on the verge of major changes in the late 1980s, when Shelly Dorph became the head of the Ramah National Commission. Jonathan Krasner discusses the case of Ramah and how it reflects on the challenges and opportunities that Jewish non-profit summer camps faced in the 1990s and early 2000s, and what it means …
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Most analyses of Jewish education, like most analyses of general education in Western, liberal society, emphasize the individual student. But some communities approach education very differently. Mijal Bitton discusses her research into how the Syrian Jewish community educates its members, formally and informally, to maintain bonds of commitment. O…
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The term "Jewish education" is used to refer to a broad array of practices, approaches, and institutions. Ari Kelman has written a new book, Jewish Education, forthcoming from Rutgers University Press in its Key Words in Jewish Studies series. The series includes books designed to "provide clear and judiciously illustrated accounts of terms current…
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What can we learn about society, people's relationship with Israel, Jewish people, and themselves, through Hebrew accents? Possibly quite a bit! This conversation focuses on Sharon Avni's recent work on how the everyday acts of speaking, learning, and engaging with Modern Hebrew inform our understanding of contemporary American Jewish life. Origina…
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How does a Jewish theater company draw upon Jewish history to wrestle artistically with universal human questions? How do they weave new narratives through the work of interpretation? Miriam Heller Stern, in recent work published as a chapter of the edited volume Portraits of Adult Jewish Learning: Making Meaning at Many Tables, addresses these que…
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What happens when young adults visit a Jewish museum? What do they learn about Jews and Judaism, and how are they changed by what they see, touch, hear and feel? In this talk, Laura Yares discusses findings from a pre-pandemic study of 30 young adult visitors to the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, and describes the rich …
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