Topics: Main Topic: Education, Jewish Schools, Religious Education, Interfaith Dialogue, Multiculturalism
Abstract: This article sets up a dialogue between auto-referential (looking to self) and allo-referential (looking to the other) approaches to religious difference and applies these to education for inter religious understanding in Jewish schools. It begins by arguing that the multiculturalism of the 1980s and 1990s set up a duality of self and other, with the responsibility for looking to ‘the other’ (allo-reference) resting largely on the majority community and the licence to look to self (auto-reference) being given to minority communities. Within the Jewish community, multiculturalism supported and legitimated the development of an inward-looking Jewish identity-based education. This was challenged in the 2000s however by the new outward-looking emphases of the community cohesion agenda, and so Jewish schools have had to negotiate a place for themselves between auto- and allo-reference. Brief case studies illustrate contrasting ways in which two schools have positioned themselves in relation to these two poles. In School A, the imperative towards ‘the other’ attempts an openness to ‘the other’ in ‘the other’s’ own terms, whereas in School B the same imperative towards ‘the other’ is framed within the auto-referential framework of being and doing Jewish.
Giving voice to ‘the silent minority’: the experience of religious students in secondary school religious education lessons
Abstract: This paper explores the experiences of secondary school students from religious backgrounds in Religious Education (RE). A total of 16 loosely structured, group, pair and individual interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 34 school-age members of four religious communities: one Jewish and three Christian. The findings make a useful contribution to ongoing debates concerning pedagogy and practice in secondary RE. Members of the religious communities consulted often found their tradition stereotyped and simplified in RE lessons. Respondents also found that at times they were expected to be, or felt the need to be, spokespeople or representatives of their religion. However, experiences of religious intolerance and prejudice, or the fear of it, were common. This led to some students being reluctant to reveal or discuss their religious identity in lessons.
Abstract: The following contribution deals with the conception of Jewish schools in Germany. With regard to the British debate about state funding for religious schools, current developments in the Jewish educational system in Germany will be presented. After this, the constitutional framework for the establishment of denominational schools in Germany will be analysed. The second and major part of the article deals, as a case study, with the Jewish High School in Berlin, which is the only Jewish secondary school in contemporary Germany. In an empirical qualitative approach, the desires and expectations of the pupils in their religious education take centre stage. Before moving to the empirical study, an overview of the history of the Jewish High School, its re‐establishment in 1993 and a profile of the pupils and the school will be provided, in order to understand the special character of this school. The conclusion in the last part raises the question of new directions emerging from a Jewish school which has pupils who are heterogeneous culturally, religiously and socially and which does not react with a strategy of cultural preservation, but with a policy of inter‐religious dialogue.
Abstract: Contrasting explanations of Jewish survival form the backdrop to this article. For Jonathan Sacks (1994) the crucial factor has been the role played by Jewish education; indeed, he claims that the demographic threat currently facing Anglo‐Jewry is largely the result of the community having neglected the Jewish education of its children over the past 200 years. He advocates reinstating this communal responsibility as the sovereign Jewish value in order to deal with the threat. In my view, the influence that Sacks attributes to education and particularly to Jewish schools is overstated. It stems from a misreading of modern Anglo‐Jewish history and from a failure to take fully into account the ways in which Jewish schools impact on their pupils’ ethnic and religious identity. These considerations apart, I contend that prioritising education will not necessarily strengthen the commitment to Jewish continuity that is the sine qua non of survival.
Designing a curriculum model for the teaching of the Bible in UK Jewish secondary schools: a case study
Abstract: This paper describes the process of designing a curriculum model for Bible teaching in UK Jewish secondary schools. This model was designed over the period 2008–2010 by a team of curriculum specialists from the Jewish Curriculum Partnership UK in collaboration with a group of teachers from Jewish secondary schools. The paper first outlines the context of UK Jewish secondary schools and then the curriculum context in which this specific model was designed. It then details the model itself and concludes with a discussion of the implementation of the model and associated challenges.
Bagels, schnitzel and McDonald's—‘fuzzy frontiers’ of Jewish identity in an English Jewish secondary school
Topics: Jewish Schools, Jewish Education, Children, Kashrut, Youth, Jewish Identity, Main Topic: Education
Abstract: Using data gathered during a case study of the ‘culture’ of a Jewish secondary school, this article explores the indeterminate boundaries of Jewish identity. By examining the mechanisms that control what and who comes into the school, and what is approved and disapproved of in the school, a picture emerges of what and who is counted as ‘Jewish’. There is detailed consideration of the admissions policy, the rules about kosher food, the explicitly religious symbols in use, the importance of Israel and the contested issue of McDonald's. Sometimes the boundaries are very clear‐cut, but in some cases there is ambiguity and disagreement that make the frontiers of English Jewish student identity decidedly fuzzy.