Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Pew Study: Implications for Jewish Education

From Jerusalem to LA to Dallas to New York, 150 computers and phones logged in today to a webinar at the Jewish Education Project discussing the educational implications of the Pew Study.
We are people of the study. We both respect and criticize serious research. We were at the ready.

The doctors and me spoke. Dr. Jonathan Woocher and Dr. Michelle Lynn Sachs.

Here are my three headlines:

1. Educators rise up and take a leadership role-time to stop ranting on the internet and really understand

We, as educators, are good at making meaning of text.
Let's convene the conversations that ask the study for its truth.

To make meaning of the text we have to make the safe space
and set the table to bring the voices we know and the voices we don't to ask
them what is Your story?
What are your moments of connection and yearning?
And in what ways are you the walking wounded from your Jewish experience?

As comments emerged from participants we need to be clear that there are multiple tables within as well as outside of our organizations.

Only after we develop deeper understanding can we create shared insight and energy to do what's next.

2. The future is our 1.8 million children who are being raised by at least one Jewish parent.

Let's pay attention  and honor the diversity of these children.
Only half are being raised exclusively as Jews. 300,000 of the are being raised as Jewish and another religion.

We are already working to innovate for those  who are engaged in an educational experience.
Only 50% of parents with children said they had a child engaged in a Jewish program, camp or school in the past year. So what are we doing to see and know and engage the other 50%?

Before we rush to another program..think instead of this goal:

By 2020 80% of those 1.8 million children will have a Jewish adult who mentors them,  is a role model for them, knows them and accompanies them in some meaningful way. What does that look like? I don't know but I invite our creative energy  so that when the next Pew study comes out people will check: I am present for one other Jew who is coming up behind me as an indicator of what it means to be a Jew.

3. Take on the taboo curriculum.
I think there are subjects we don't know how to engage with in a 2013 kind of way.
We know finger wagging doesn't work but we've lost the comfort and ability to teach, to learn and generate meaning around things like:
1. intermarriage and marriage
2. raising children and what our hopes and dreams for the children are
3. Responsibility and commitment..yes this is my passion and my interest and what is my responsibility to the people I'm proud to be part of ?
someone on the call added God.
What's the 2013 way to stop with the taboo, bring it out in the open in a meaningful way?

What do you think about the implications?
What do you want to raise as something we need to chew on?