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Rethinking Jewish Identity and Jewish Education

From: Susanne Shavelson
Length: 12:20

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If Jewish education is to respond to the needs of American Jews and their communities in the 21st century, we need to rethink the assumption that Jewish identity is the goal of Jewish education. This podcast captures the conversation at a recent Brandeis University conference to "rethink" Jewish identity.

Confgrpsml_small The way many in the Jewish community talk about "identity" does not capture the complex ways in which people understand their Jewish commitments, engage with Jewish communities, and enact Jewish practices. If Jewish education is to respond to the needs of American Jews and their communities in the 21st century, we need to rethink the assumption that Jewish identity is the goal of Jewish education. This podcast captures the conversation at a recent Brandeis University conference to "rethink" Jewish identity. Participants considered:

  • What does it mean to learn to inhabit or embody an identity or identities?  What do we know about the ways that contemporary Jews do so?
  • Where does the language of “Jewish identity” come from, when, and why?  What work does it do for those who use it?  What kind of educational efforts does it promote, and what does it inhibit?
  • To the extent that the construct of “Jewish identity” no longer satisfies us, what alternatives are available – especially in conceptualizing the desirable outcomes of Jewish education?
 

Piece Description

The way many in the Jewish community talk about "identity" does not capture the complex ways in which people understand their Jewish commitments, engage with Jewish communities, and enact Jewish practices. If Jewish education is to respond to the needs of American Jews and their communities in the 21st century, we need to rethink the assumption that Jewish identity is the goal of Jewish education. This podcast captures the conversation at a recent Brandeis University conference to "rethink" Jewish identity. Participants considered:

  • What does it mean to learn to inhabit or embody an identity or identities?  What do we know about the ways that contemporary Jews do so?
  • Where does the language of “Jewish identity” come from, when, and why?  What work does it do for those who use it?  What kind of educational efforts does it promote, and what does it inhibit?
  • To the extent that the construct of “Jewish identity” no longer satisfies us, what alternatives are available – especially in conceptualizing the desirable outcomes of Jewish education?
 

Related Website

http://www.brandeis.edu/mandel/events/identityconf.html