Publications

2010
David Ben-Dor. 2010. “Teaching about Christianity in Israel.” The Melton Centre for Jewish Education.
Where's my Miracle?
Morey Schwartz. 2010. Where's my Miracle?. Gefen Publishing House. Buy it Abstract

At one time or another every person of faith asks himself questions like these: What must I do to deserve some Divine intervention in my life? Is there anyone really listening to my prayers? When do miracles happen, and when do they not? Where s my miracle? Am I not worthy? Here is a fresh, new, thought-provoking approach to the eternal mystery of the miracle, based on the multiple texts found in Jewish tradition as well as lessons learned from experience. The Al Aksa Intifada and its bloody consequences serve as backdrop for the many important messages about belief contained in this book. The Intifada forced Jews and rabbinic leaders to actively confront the difficult philosophical questions that arose in the wake of continual, random acts of violence in Israel. Having made aliyah just weeks before the onset of the bloody violence, the author took note of the reactions of survivors and spiritual leaders throughout the years of violence and was struck with the pat, simplistic, and often not-well-thought-out reactions and explanations offered by Israeli spiritual leaders to give meaning and purpose to the violence. Rabbi Morey Schwartz, an only child, orphaned by age twenty, has spent more than twenty years searching for a satisfying answer to his personal misfortune. Searching traditional Jewish responses, he never found a response that addressed his need to believe in a benevolent, merciful and all-powerful divine being, while simultaneously honoring what he considers his right to understanding. To believe in a God that was less than all-powerful seemed pointless, and to accept that we just cannot understand seemed to be meaningless. The author, is a graduate of Yeshiva University and Bernard Revel Graduate School, and musmach of the Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan Theological Seminary. During his twelve years in the American rabbinate, helping others to deal with suffering and loss, the author found himself expressing a refreshing theological approach to this question, one which has helped countless individuals work through these difficult issues in their own lives. The book provides a look at the way the sages dealt with the suffering of the innocent throughout the centuries, providing the reader with easy to read rabbinic texts arranged in a text and counter-text format, for the purpose of presenting multiple Jewish approaches to some very difficult questions. In addition, the author provides a new, inspiring way of looking at the whole business of miracles. The age-old idea that miracles arise for those who deserve them is reconsidered, and a whole new perspective on the function and incidence of miracles is proposed. Any person of any faith will want to read these words and ponder the Divine s role in our lives, in the good times and the bad. This book will become a source of great comfort to Jews looking for alternative Jewish approaches to suffering and to God s role in suffering. This book is a must for those who counsel, for they above all need to be sympathetic to the deep sensitivities of those who seek consolation.

2009
Jewish Day Schools, Jewish Communities: A Reconsideration
2009. Jewish Day Schools, Jewish Communities: A Reconsideration. Littman Library Of Jewish Civilization. Buy it Abstract

About 350,000 Jewish children are currently enrolled in Jewish day schools, in every continent other than Antarctica. This is the first book-length consideration of life in such schools and of their relationship both to the Jewish community and to society as a whole. It provides a rich sense of how community is constructed within Jewish schools, and of how they contribute to or complicate the construction of community in the wider society...

Kol Hamercaz
2009. “Kol Hamercaz,” no. December 2009.
PDF icon Kol Hamercaz Dec2009.pdf
Richard Lewis. 2009. “And before Honor-Humility: The Ideal of Humanity in the Moral Language of the Sages".” The Melton Centre for Jewish Education.
Peace Education in Conflict and Post-Conflict Societies: Comparative Perspectives

While the number and range of international peace programmes continues to proliferate, there is a marked absence of interdisciplinary and comparative research to guide academic development and inform practice in this challenging arena. It is these deficits that the present volume aims to address. This collection of peace education efforts in conflict and post-conflict societies brings together an international group of scholars to offer the very latest theoretical and pedagogical developments for long term solutions.

Ruth Walfish. 2009. “Teaching Biblical Miracle Stories in Israeli State Religious Schools.” The Melton Centre for Jewish Education.
Iris Tsirolnik. 2009. “The Masorti Jew - Major components identity and their transmission to the future generation.” The Melton Centre for Jewish Education.
The Stabilization of Rabbinic Culture, 100 C.E. -350 C.E.: Texts on Education and Their Late Antique Context

Drawing on the great progress in Talmudic scholarship over the last century, The Stabilization of Rabbinic Culture is both an introduction to a close reading of rabbinic literature and a demonstration of the development of rabbinic thought on education in the first centuries of the Common Era. In Roman Palestine and Sasanid Persia, a small group of approximately two thousand Jewish scholars and rabbis sustained a thriving national and educational culture. They procured loyalty to the national language and oversaw the retention of a national identity. This accomplishment was unique in the Roman Near East, and few physical artifacts remain. The scope of oral teaching, however, was vast and was committed to writing only in the high Middle Ages. The content of this oral tradition remains the staple of Jewish learning through modern times. Though oral learning was common in many ancient cultures, the Jewish approach has a different theoretical basis and different aims. Marc Hirshman explores the evolution and institutionalization of Jewish culture in both Babylonian and Palestinian sources. At its core, he argues, the Jewish cultural thrust in the first centuries of the Common Era was a sustained effort to preserve the language of its culture in its most pristine form. Hirshman traces and outlines the ideals and practices of rabbinic learning as presented in the relatively few extensive discussions of the subject in late antique rabbinic sources. The Stabilization of Rabbinic Culture is a pioneering attempt to characterize the unique approach to learning developed by the rabbinic leadership in late antiquity.

2008
Back to School: Jewish Day School in the Lives of Adult Jews
Alex Pomson and Randal Schnoor. 2008. Back to School: Jewish Day School in the Lives of Adult Jews. Wayne State University Press. Buy it Abstract

Beyond the walls of their synagogues, Jewish adults are creating religious meaning in new and diverse ways in a range of unconventional sites. In Back to School, authors Alex Pomson and Randal F. Schnoor argue that the Jewish day school serves as one such site by bringing adults and children together for education, meeting, study, and worship-like ceremonies. Pomson and Schnoor suggest that day school functions as a locus of Jewish identity akin to the Jewish streets or neighborhoods that existed in many major North American cities in the first half of the twentieth century.

Back to School began as an ethnographic study of the Paul Penna Downtown Jewish Day School (DJDS) in Toronto, a private, religiously pluralistic day school that balances its Jewish curriculum with general studies. Drawing on a longitudinal study at DJDS, and against the backdrop of a comparative study of two other Toronto day schools as well as four day schools from the U.S. Midwest, Pomson and Schnoor argue that when parents choose Jewish schools for their children they look for institutions that satisfy not only their children's academic and emotional needs but also their own social and personal concerns as Jewish adults. The authors found an uncommon degree of involvement and engagement on the part of the parents, as genuine friendships and camaraderie blossomed between parents, faculty, and administrators. In addition, the authors discovered that parents who considered themselves secular Jews were introduced to or reacquainted with the depth and meaning of Jewish tradition and rituals through observing or taking part in school activities.

Sitting on the cusp between the disciplines of education and the sociology of contemporary Jewish life, Back to School offers important policy implications for how Jewish day schools might begin to re-imagine their relationships with parents. Jewish parents, Jewish studies scholars, as well as researchers of educational and social trends will enjoy this evocative volume.

Kol Hamercaz
2008. “Kol Hamercaz,” no. April 2008.
PDF icon Kol Hamercaz Apr2008.pdf
Mirror Images: Popular Culture and Education

"Few books capture as clearly the critical place and influence of popular culture on education. Silberman-Keller, Bekerman, Giroux, and Burbules have launched a collaboration that helps educators understand the learning process outside the confines of classroom pedagogy but provides the conditions of possibility for improving schools. Its expert contributors travel through social experiences that no educator can take for granted any longer as extra-curricular. If schooling is education of the whole person then this book takes us one step closer to that transformation." —Zeus Leonardo, University of California, Berkeley

Modes of Educational Translation
We are proud to present our readers with Volume 13 of our series: Studies in Jewish Education. This volume is concerned with the possibility of “translating” insights derived from areas of knowledge sometimes thought to be outside the purview of education – to issues and problems on the agenda of educational thinkers, researchers and practitioners.
As we have learned from our teachers, Prof. Seymour Fox, of blessed memory, and Prof. Michael Rosenak (may he be granted many more years of fruitful creativity) – “translating” from philosophical systems or lead concepts, from principles deriving from the tradition of Jewish thought, or from cultural visions – to educational thought and practice,is a most complex matter. Some prefer to work in the “normative” mode, wherein normative world views are “translated” from fundamental philosophical “principles” to educational “ideals,” “goals” and “means.”
In the transition from one category to the next, however, certain terms must necessarily be modified or reinterpreted. This process is both enriching and impoverishing – as certain understandings are inevitably “lost” in translation even as other insights are gained. Others prefer to work in the “deliberative” mode, beginning from symptoms of malaise emanating from the field of educational practice, accessing world-views and disciplines of knowledge in order to arrive at an informed formulation of the “problem,” then generating alternative solutions to the “problem” – alternatives from among which some will be chosen for implementation and others, perhaps just as promising, will have to be discarded or shelved. For those who feel more at home in this mode – world-views, concepts, disciplines and cultural visions do not function as overarching norms, but rather as “resources,” drawn upon to the degree that they are seen to address problems as experienced by those affected by them. As if this were not complex enough, Prof. Rosenak has reminded us that neither mode – normative or deliberative – is, or should be sufficient unto itself.
On the one hand, normative discourse that does not also have its “ears tothe ground,” picking up on current educational problems and addressing them in terms intelligible to those who suffer from them, will end up being sterile and hortatory. Deliberative discourse, on the other hand,is always anchored in normative assumptions, without which one could not articulate what it is about the “problem” that is “problematic,” or in need of amelioration. According to Rosenak, there must be a constant, dialectical interaction between the normative and deliberative modes if educational issues are to be addressed both honestly and intelligently.
PDF icon studies13.pdf