About the Book -- Studies in Jewish Education II: Jewish Educational Research in Diaspora
This volume focuses on the analysis of history, trends and the current problems in American Jewish education. The articles cover such issues as a Jewish schooling and the survival of Jews as Jews in the suburbs; impact of the Jewish schooling on the Jewish community; influence of John Dewey's method on the Jewish education, and more.
How is the tradition to speak to children — and adults — in our
age, without becoming corrupted in the process of becoming meaningful and
comprehensible? How can Judaism be intelligible without presenting it in a
reductionist way which makes it superfluous?
In dealing with this problem and with the unease that gives it
urgency, we must realize that the tradition itself is viewed as problematic, not
only by the general community of Jews (where, indeed, many are not particularly
perturbed by it), but among teachers as well. The question therefore arises, and
it clearly engages the thinking and research of many at the Conference, what the
substance of modern Judaism is and what we wish to transmit.
For the theoretical writer who maintains that Judaism remains
anchored in a religious world-view, the question presents itself largely as a
theological one. The educator, it is claimed, must be versed in the conceptions
of Jewish thinkers — including contemporary ones — who have systematically
stated what the tradition says (to them), what commitments it expounds and how
it relates to — and vindicates itself — vis-a-vis other options of
existence. Within these theological systems, it is asserted, one may find
implicit educational philosophies; the educational theorist must locate them and
prepare them, via explicit educational theory, for educational practice. Thus,
Jewish theologies, if examined educationally, not only inform the educator what
Judaism says in a given approach, but also how Jewish conceptions interact with
theoretical concepts and general experience as these are known from the
The educational theorist will show how Jewish values, ideals and
ideas are not only distinctive, but how they can be more sharply delineated
and/or characterized in terms of other cultures. Schremer shows how the
philosophy of Buber may be approached by the educational theorist in this
manner; Copeland's study of reading aloud in the Jewish educational tradition
demonstrates how traditional norms and assumptions can be discovered in
educational conceptions and patterns. For Copeland, reading aloud is intrinsic
to what the Jewish tradition is saying — about Torah, learning, the dialogue
between man and God, and the position of the learner in the community.
The idea that means in education are never neutral with regard
to desired goals, and that Jewish education must both learn from philosophy and
yet not adopt it uncritically, constitute a focal aspect of the Jewish-modern
discomfort. It is well illustrated by Cohen's study on the uses of deliberation
in Jewish education. Deliberation as an attempt to locate problems before
generating alternate solutions, so crucial a concept in Dewey's philosophy,
isshown to have relevance for the Jewish model of "learning." In both cases (the
Deweyan and the classic Jewish), Cohen indicates, the ultimate concern is with
action. As Copeland juxtaposes the reading in dignified (or perhaps, deathly)
silent libraries with the hum of the Bet Midrash, so Cohen contrasts
the Aristotelian ideal of contemplation with the deliberation on moral and
feasible alternatives for practice.
Aron, too, deals with deliberation in order to locate its
methodological value and legitimacy for education. Though careful to point out
the extreme individualism that characterizes decision-making in this method,
Aron believes that, in our present Jewish situation, deliberation may constitute
a crucial aspect of Jewish understanding and self-understanding; Jews, she
implies, may be seen as those who seriously deliberate about Jewish things.
It is noteworthy that our writers, in searching for Jewish
authenticity in the modern world in which they wish to live, from which they
have learned, and to which they contribute, generally look either to implicit or
general theologies (like that of Buber)
or to educational concepts or patterns which are culturally specific but make no
clear-cut dogmatic demands.
In the Jewish tradition, such clear normative obligations would
involve community enforced standards of halacha — in some form — and some
belief-commitment. Doctrinal or halachic unity is not an acute "problematic
situation" for most of our scholars. They are troubled by the falling away from
the community, by triviality in Jewish teaching, and they seek ways in which the
religious dimension of existence may be, for Jews, imbued with the spirit and
nourished by the religious culture of Jewish sources.
Nevertheless, the doctrinal and halachic dimensions are by no
means unacceptable for inquiry; that is, it occasions no raised eyebrows today
to be ill at ease about the dearth of halacha and/or indifference to Jewish
doctrine. Thus, Dorph has no hesitation in stating that unless Jews are ready to
live by religious norms, though these are not supported by American
education and society, they cannot expect children to find Judaism significant .
ISA ARON serves as the coordinator of museum education at the
Hebrew Union College Skirball Museum, and is a faculty
member of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at Hebrew
Union College. She holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education
from the University of Chicago.
GEOFFREY E. BOCK has been a Research Associate at
Massachusetts Institute of Technology and holds a doctorate
from Harvard University.
BARRY CHAZAN is the Director of the Melton Centre for
Jewish Education in the Diaspora, the Hebrew University of
BURTON COHEN, Assistant Professor of Education at the
Jewish Theological Seminary of America, also serves as National
Director for the Ramah Camps and Programs. Dr. Cohen has
been active in Jewish education on local school boards and
STEVE COPELAND is a lecturer at the Melton Centre for
Jewish Education in the Diaspora, the Hebrew University of
Jerusalem. Dr. Copeland, who received his doctorate from
Harvard University Graduate School of Education, was previously
affiliated with the Solomon Schechter Day School, Newton,
Mass. and National Young Judaea.
SHELDON A. DORPH is Director of the Jewish Academy of
Los Angeles and Principal of Los Angeles Hebrew High School.
Rabbi Dorph holds a doctoral degree from Columbia University.
YITZCHAK MEIR GOODMAN is a teacher at the Frisch
Yeshiva High School and serves on the staff of Young Israel of
Far Rockaway, New York. Dr. Goodman received smicha and a
D.Ed, from Yeshiva University. He was awarded the second prize
for his song in the 1979 American Chasidic Song Festival.
HAROLD S. HIMMELFARB is Professor of Sociology at the
Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. He has contributed to
the Project on Jewish Education Statistics at the Institute for
Contemporary Jewry of the Hebrew University. He holds a
Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
STUART KELMAN is Assistant Professor of Jewish Education
at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los
Angeles. He received rabbinical ordination from the Jewish
Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in Sociology of Education
from the University of Southern California. He is currently
serving as Chairperson of CAJE.
RONALD KRONISH serves as the Director of In-Service
Training and Evaluation of the Institute for Jewish and Zionist
Education in Jerusalem. Dr. Kronish received his doctorate
from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education and
rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College, Jewish
Institute of Religion in New York.
EDUARDO RAUCH is co-director of the Melton Research
Center for Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary
of America in New York. He holds a Doctorate in Education
from Harvard University. Dr. Rauch was previously Assistant
Professor at the University of Chile and on the staff of the
and Hechalutz Department of the Jewish Agency in Israel.
MICHAEL ROSENAK is former Director of the Melton Centre
for Jewish Education in the Diaspora, the Hebrew University of
Jerusalem, and teaches Philosophy of Jewish Education at the
Centre and School of Education.
DAVID SCHOEM is a lecturer at the University of Michigan,
where he directs the Pilot Program innovative
unit. Dr. Schoem, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of
California at Berkeley, was the recipient of the Dushkin Prize
from the Hebrew University for the outstanding doctoral
in Jewish Education, 1970-1980.
ODED SCHREMER teaches Jewish education at Bar Ilan University,
and is affiliated with the Melton Centre for Jewish Education
in the Diaspora and the Ministry of Education. Dr.
Schremer holds a doctorate from the Hebrew University of
BENNETT I. SOLOMON, the Principal of the Eli and Bessie
Cohen Hillel Academy of Swampscott, Mass., received his doctoral
degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of
Education. Dr. Solomon previously served in positions at the
Solomon Schechter Day School in Newton, Mass., and at Camp
Ramah in Pennsylvania and Canada.
RONALD G. WOLFSON is Assistant Professor of Education at
the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, where he serves as
Director of Education Programs, the Center for Innovative Jewish
Education, and the Summer Institute for Jewish Educators.
He received a Ph.D. in Education from Washington University,
St. Louis, Missouri.
MICHAEL ZELDIN is Assistant Professor of Jewish Education
at the Rhea Hirsch School of Education of the Hebrew Union
College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. He received
his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in Social
and Philosophical Foundations of Education.