Rhea Hirsch School of Education Students Interrogate Hot Topics in the Field

Friday, March 6, 2015

Dr. Tali Zelkowicz, Assistant Professor of Education and Professor Sara S. Lee Chair for an Emerging Scholar in Jewish Education, teaches Sociology of Jewish Education at the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at HUC-JIR's Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles. She writes:

Top row, from left: Jeremy Gimbel, Ari Feinstein, Ted Dreier, Abram Goodstein; Bottom row, from left: Matti Barzilai, Nicole Berne, Ashley Marx

True agents of change use their passion, but are then able to go beyond. This is why I invite students to begin the Sociology of Jewish Education course by clarifying their passionate “soap boxes.”  In fact, it is a “Cyber Soapbox,” in which students have no more than one page double spaced to write with abandon, and express, unfettered by facts or multiple perspectives, their deepest, truest feelings about any one contested arena in Jewish education.

For example, students share impassioned tirades about what is wrong with “Bar Mitzvah factories,” “why Hebrew schools fails to teach any Hebrew,” or “how Israel education can be mis-education.”  By the end of the semester, however, the students have used social scientific tools including interviewing and research of their field of interest to produce an article that combines their passion, along with fresh, bold alternative visions grounded in scholarship and empirical reality. In other words, they have gone beyond their own experience or “kishkeh data,” without ignoring it. 

Although these articles have gone through multiple drafts and revisions, the students still feel that their ideas are works in progress, and welcome your feedback (their emails are included in the articles).  They hope these “contributions to the field” may be the first entrée into the discourse in the field, across many kinds of stakeholders.

Here are the links to the articles from our fall 2014 class:

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