Towards the future of Jewish education

The JTA has engaged a number of thinker/writers to anticipate and reflect upon different aspects of the post-pandemic Jewish future. The article appears in a series called Visions for the post-pandemic Jewish world: Imagining a better future.

Henry Abramson, dean of Touro College in Brooklyn, New York has contributed an article to the series entitled Technology Makes Jewish Education More Accessible. We Must Ensure the Trade-off Isn’t Our Values.

His article relates specifically to post-secondary Jewish education. He offers no predictions. Rather he emphasizes the importance of incorporating one of the anchors of the historic Jewish approach to pedagogy – namely, with the personal, individualized contact and influence of a scholar/mentor/exemplar/guider – into the inevitably unfolding new world of online, cyberspace, virtual, Zoom-based learning.

Abramson’s article is well written and thoughtful.

In the course of pleading his key points, he makes two very strong observations that have overarching relevance to Jewish education at all levels, including pre-secondary.

“Jewish civilization requires erudition, to be sure, but even more basically, it requires Jews.”

Implicit in the above statement is the irrefutable proposition that to raise children to understand, feel for, develop, advance and embrace their Jewishness, we must be able to send them to Jewish school.

And although Abramson relates his thesis to the purpose of higher Jewish education, it applies with equal force to all Jewish education, including JK through grade 12: “Institutions of Jewish higher education, on the other hand, are usually dedicated to an explicit or implicit communal agenda.”

That communal agenda has been with us since Jewish history began.

Schools, teachers and their pupils of course, have always been the ultimate guarantors of the survival of the community and thus, of Jewish history too.

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Be safe. Stay safe. Be well. Stay well. Be strong. Stay strong.

Shabbat shalom

GAJE

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