A Window into "Sociology of Education" - Rhea Hirsch School of Education Students Make Contributions to the Field

Thursday, March 21, 2013

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:

True agents of change use their passion, but are then able to go beyond. This is why my students begin by clarifying their passionate “soap boxes” in the Sociology of Jewish Education course I teach for graduate students in Jewish education at the Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles. That assignment is a 1-page “Cyber Soapbox,” in which students 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 and research to produce an article that combines their passion, along with fresh, bold alternative visions that are grounded in scholarship and empirical reality, not just their own experience or “kishkeh data.”  The students feel that the ideas and research in these articles are works in progress, and welcome your feedback. But they hope these “contributions to the field” are the first of hopefully many more they will make.

Read samples of this year’s articles:


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is the nation's first institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu