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eBook Studies in Jewish Education IV: Curriculum and the teaching of Hebrew
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Publisher:  Varda Books
Published:  2009
Language:  English
Pages:   282

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ISBN: 1-59045-965-2

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About the Book -- Studies in Jewish Education IV: Curriculum and the teaching of Hebrew

The present volume, the fourth in the series Studies in Jewish Education, is dedicated to the subject of curriculum and the teaching of Hebrew.

One major challenge to Jewish education is the relationship of Jewish and general subjects within a single curriculum. The abiding temptation is to separate religious and secular spheres, thereby creating an artificial dichotomy within the schools which conflicts with the actual experience of the students. The essays of Bennett Solomon, Moshe Sokolow and Sol Schimmel confront the question of integration non-defensively, seeking to break through boundaries, widen interpretative perspectives, and, in the view of the authors, enrich understanding.

Sokolow and Schimmel approach the problem of integration from the sensitive field of biblical studies and relate nontraditional sources and hermeneutic tools with the sacred text. Schimmel builds a curricular unit upon a daring comparative analysis of the trials of Jeremiah (Book of Jeremiah, Chap. 7, 26) and Socrates, as recorded in Plato's Apology. The analysis suggests contrasts and similarities on both the moral and intellectual levels, which cannot but deepen the students' grasp of each text.

Sokolow presents another mode of integration by weaving together traditional, historical, and literary interpretations of the biblical tale of the tower of Babel. The compact, systematic and rich analysis demonstrates the advantages precisely for religious education, of what the author calls the "coordinative approach."

Bennett Solomon's paper focuses upon the inter-relationship between curriculum and the organization of the school, and stands as a memorial to the author's deep concerns as a dedicated imaginative educator. Solomon describes an experiment conducted in his own school in which faculty and students were mobilized to create the integration of general and Jewish content within various curricular units. His essay demonstrates the necessity of linking curricular and structural elements, within a climate of cross-fertilization and cooperation.

Solomon's argument is reinforced by Schremer's contention that schools must be prepared for curricular changes. In his paper "Preparing Schools for Curricular Projects", Oded Schremer used the term "interference" to describe the major school involvement he claims is necessary if curriculum developments are to be appropriate and changes successful. Steve Copeland's essay, "From Outer Form to Inner Meaning and Back Again", returns us to questions raised in the papers on integration. Copeland urges that Jewish educators "open up approaches to religious tradition by suggesting its confluence with valued experiences and ideas formally external to it." In describing the functions of metaphoric interpretations Copeland explores ways to free the inner meaning of Jewish sources for contemporary young people. His claim, that through the metaphoric imagination sacred values and meanings can be conveyed and made relevant to the student today, deserves the serious attention of all concerned with the transmission and preservation of Jewish culture in the world of modernity.

Shimon Oren's paper adds another dimension to the issue of interpretation, claiming that the hermeneutical concept "here and now" must be adapted to the teaching of prayer. Awareness of the interaction of actual life-experience, reflections upon such experience, and the act of praying must change the focus of curriculum on prayer from the text to the individual who prays.

The call to open the curriculum to a variety of interpretive methods and perspectives, evident in many of the papers included in this volume, is echoed by Dalia Ofer in her advocacy of the introduction of the study of contemporary Jewry and Judaism to the curriculum of Jewish Schools. The subject is multi-disciplinary by definition. Further, the subject of contemporary Jewry promotes theoretical thinking about the key issues in modern Jewish existence and may develop a broad understanding of historical processes. Ofer suggests that the particular value questions which necessarily arise in any discussion on modern Jewish life should be considered within this overall historical, sociological and cultural study.

The teaching of Hebrew language and literature in the Diaspora has been a problematic enterprise throughout modern Jewish history. The second section of the current volume is dedicated to an examination of several new ideas in this sphere, which are of great concern both to researchers and practitioners in the field of Jewish education. The four articles have no single focus, but deal with different aspects of the central issue.

Shlomo Haramati indicates several key problems in the process of teaching and learning Hebrew reading through an interesting comparison of rabbinic comments upon the process and recent research findings in the area of educational psychology. He concludes that rabbinic literature offers helpful insights into areas which must be explored further through systematic research. Ruth Raphaeli examines one new curriculum project in the teaching of Hebrew, initiated by the Melton Research Center of the Jewish Theological Seminary. Raphaeli describes the determination to teach biblical rather than modern conversational Hebrew and the rationale for this choice given the limitations of supplementary school education. Her paper concludes with an outline of the methods and materials used in the Melton program.

Rivka Maoz focuses upon another aspect of curriculum planning, namely the teaching of Hebrew literature. She examines the links between ideological concerns and the choice of texts, indicating the special tension between Zionist and Diaspora perspectives.

The last article in this section touches upon a question relevant in officially bilingual countries where Hebrew becomes the third language children must learn. Ellen Adiv attempts to assess achievement in the learning of Hebrew in Montreal's trilingual schools compared to bilingual Jewish Day School achievement in other parts of Canada. Her analysis indicates remarkably few differences in achievement between the two situations. Adiv's study demonstrates the strength of Canadian Jewish Day Schools in teaching Hebrew. Beyond this specific point, however, her work is a research model in the application of general educational findings to Jewish education and in the questions which must be asked if Jewish educational effectiveness is to be gauged at all.



ELLEN ADIV received her doctoral degree in Second Language Education from McGill University. She was a Lady Davies Fellow at the Hebrew University and a Research Officer for the Protestant School Board of Montreal, Canada.

STEVEN COPELAND is a lecturer at the Melton Centre for Jewish Education in the Diaspora, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University Graduate School of Education. Previously, he was affiliated with the Solomon Schechter Day School, Newton, Massachusetts, and National Young Judaea.

RIVKA MAOZ is a lecturer of Modern Hebrew Literature at the Hebrew University in the School for Overseas Students, and an academic coordinator of Hebrew literature for the Hebrew University Summer Ulpan. She also teaches Modern Hebrew Literature at Hebrew Union College of Jerusalem, and has compiled several anthologies of modern Hebrew literature in Hebrew and English.

SHIMON OREN received his M.A. in Hebrew Literature, Philosophy and Psychology from the Hebrew University, and in Educational Philosophy, Curriculum Writing and Innovative Teaching Methods from Columbia University. He has been a lecturer in Education and Teaching Methods for Jewish Studies at the Melton Centre since 1968.

DALIA OFER received her Ph.D. in Contemporary Jewry from the Hebrew University. She lectures in the Institute of Contemporary Jewry, and in the School of Education both in Teaching Certificate and at the Melton Centre. Her book Illegal Immigration during World War II will be published soon by Yad Ben Zvi Institute.

RUTH RAPHAELI is a lecturer in Hebrew at the Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures at Columbia University, where she is also in charge of the undergraduate program in Hebrew language. At the Melton Research Center of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, she is responsible, together with Rabbi Miles Cohen, for the development of the Hebrew Language Program, and is a co-author of the materials for the program. In past years she wrote and produced numerous series of educational radio programs for the Israel Broadcasting Service.

SOL SCHIMMEL is a Professor of Education and Psychology at Teachers' Hebrew College, Brookline, Massachusetts. His research interests are in the relationships between psychology and religion, and in curriculum theory and construction in Jewish education. Sol Schimmel has been a visiting Professor at the Melton Centre for Jewish Education at Bar Ilan University.

ODED SCHREMER is a senior lecturer in the Schools of Education of Bar-Ilan University and the Hebrew University. His areas of expertise include curriculum planning and staff development. He also serves as Director of the Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora at Bar-Ilan University.

MOSHE SOKOLOW is Associate Professor of Bible and Jewish Education at Yeshiva University, and Pedagogic Consultant to the Torah Education Department of the World Zionst Organization.

BENNETT SOLOMON was Principal of the Hillel Academy in Swampscott, Massachusetts. He also served as part-time lecturer in Jewish education for the Hornstein Program of Brandeis University, and was the founder of the Ramat El Jewish Curriculum Center, Inc. Dr. Solomon died in December 1987.


About the Book


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English Section




Sol Schimmel - The Trials of Jeremiah and Socrates: A Model of Integrated Teaching of Biblical and General Studies 15

Moshe Sokolow - The Bible and Religious Education: A Multi-Dimensional Approach 42

Bennett Solomon - Curriculum Innovation: What Jewish Education Can Learn from Educational Research 63

Steve Copeland - From Outer to Inner Meaning and Back Again: The Metaphoric Imagination in Jewish Learning 83

Oded Schremer - Preparing the School for a Curricular Project (Abstract of Hebrew) 111

Shimon Oren - Modern Hermeneutics and the Teaching of Prayer (Abstract of Hebrew) 114

Dalia Ofer - Contemporary Jewry as a Curricular Topic for Jewish Education in Israel and the Diaspora: A Conceptual Approach and a Course of Action (Abstract of Hebrew) 116


Ruth Raphaeli - The Melton Curriculum and the Melton Hebrew Language Program for Afternoon Hebrew Schools 121

Ellen Adiv - Jewish Day School Programs: An Assessment of Linguistic Proficiency and Academic Achievement in Multilingual Educational Settings 147

Shlomo Haramati - Characteristics of the Hebrew Reading Process: A Comparison of Rabbinic Literature and Modern Research (Abstract of Hebrew) 169

Rivka Maoz - Ideational and Ideological Elements of Designing Curricula: How Criteria for Selecting Literary Works Reflect and Create Attitudes (Abstract of Hebrew) 171







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