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'Adapting: The Future of Jewish Education' is a podcast hosted by The Jewish Education Project. Hear CEO David Bryfman and a different guest each episode explore the big questions, challenges, and successes that define Jewish education. Available on Apple Podcasts or Spotify!
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Learning About Learning: Conversations with Scholars of Jewish Education

Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis University

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There is great scholarship being done in the field of Jewish education, but it’s not always accessible. And even when it is, it’s not always obvious why people in the field of Jewish education should care about it. That’s what this podcast is about—making really interesting scholarship on Jewish education accessible and talking with scholars about why it matters. Learning About Learning draws on live conversations, originally conducted as Zoom webinars. Regular episodes feature discussions b ...
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We are all Jewish educators, whether professionally, or personally in our own homes. Whether you chose to be an educator by profession or not, we are all Jewish educators. Day in and day out, in our own homes, we are educating our children on what it means to be a Jew, what it means to be a good person. The goal of the podcast is to provide listeners with practical advice and guidance from masters in the chinuch world, who have tremendous amount of experience in educating children and teens ...
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show series
 
Jewish pride isn't just an emotion, but is an idea that can be taught. According to this week's Adapting guest, if it's not taught, it's dangerous to suppress. Joining David Bryfman this week is educator, author, and founder of the modern Jewish pride movement, Ben M. Freeman. The pair discuss his experiences and overlap between the LGBTQ+ communit…
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For over a generation, many American Jewish young adults have spent a year between high school and college in Israel—the “gap year.” How does the gap year contribute to North American Jewish education? How does it complicate that work? What does it mean for young adults to go from “here" to “there" to participate in this important educational exper…
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We’re continuing our limited series, Israel Education in a Post-October 7th World, with Rabbi Dr. Laura Novak Winer, a Reform Jewish Educator who just returned from an educator mission to Israel powered by The Jewish Education Project along with the Association for Reform Jewish Educators and Hebrew Union College community. It’s one thing to see po…
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This week on Adapting, we return to the series, Israel and Jewish Education in a Post-October 7th World, with a conversation on antisemitism, particularly in the film industry. Join David Bryfman as he sits down with Todd Shotz, an acclaimed film and television producer, Jewish educator, and a leading consultant on Jewish representation in Hollywoo…
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Recorded on International Women’s Day, this week's episode of Adapting poses the question: if the workforce of Jewish education is largely dominated by women, why are there still disproportionately more men in the senior leadership positions? This introspective conversation with Dr. Sara Shapiro-Plevan and David Bryfman explores many of the inequit…
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Danny Mishkin and Lynn Lancaster are making waves in experiential Jewish education. Sababa Beachaway, a co-ed residential summer camp in Virginia Beach, is where spirituality and tradition intersect to empower teens and tweens. Their conversation with David Bryfman takes you into a day in the life of a Sababa participant, and even leads listeners i…
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Over the last two decades, talk of Yiddish as an alternate path of engaging with Jewishness comes up in the Jewish press almost cyclically — a journalistic evergreen. In this session, historian and Yiddish podcaster Sandra Fox explains how Yiddish became culturally significant, why young people are flocking to learn Yiddish in larger numbers than e…
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Starting from kindergarten, how do we as educators connect Jewish tradition to where children are developmentally? This week on Adapting, David Bryfman speaks with Rachel Happel, an experiential Jewish educator who is leading a Jewish learning revolution through unconventional programs. With the use of Jewish Learning Guides, "learning spaces" (a t…
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We are facing a unique time as a Jewish people when the mitzvah of pidyon shvuyim, redeeming the captives, is top of mind as 134 hostages are still held by Hamas in Gaza. What can you as an educator be doing to help the captives? In this extremely timely episode, Clare Goldwater and Elyssa Moss Rabinowitz discuss their educational campagin, Everyon…
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This week's multi-faceted conversation between David Bryfman and Jonathan Cannon demonstrates that even deeply religious and Zionist schools are not immune to the ripple effects of October 7th. In times of heightened antisemitism, they too need to empower their students more than ever. As part of a limited series, Israel Education in a Post-October…
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How has October 7th impacted your connection to Israel? Since then, is there someone you have been holding in your heart? These are just some of the questions Dr. Jonathan Golden incorporates in his Israel education paradigm of using the heart (feelings), head (questions), and hand (thoughts) to have these important conversations. In the second epi…
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Like other immigrants, many Israeli expatriates find themselves asking how they can maintain their culture on American soil. But what happens when their children learn their heritage language in American educational settings? In this session, Hannah Kober will discusses the surprising finding from her recent research that the long-held narrative ab…
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This episode kicks off a new series: Israel Education in a Post-October 7th World. Stay tuned for more episodes in this series. In the aftermath of October 7th, it's clearer than ever before that there is a need for both advocacy and education to bring about the changes necessary in independent and public-school education. David Bryfman and Laura S…
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"Each and every tree has something important to say. If you listen closely, you might too hear their whispers." Rabbi Jackson Mercer creates intentional spaces as a song leader. He is also the author of Wise Friends, a children's book that's really a book for everyone, filled with millennium-old Hebrew teachings. He also just happens to be this wee…
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According to Rabbi Danny Burkeman, the congregation is the beating heart of Jewish education, a driver of change which brings community together and inspires Jewish learning. So how does a synagogue adapt to keep Jewish education stimulating? In an inspiring conversation recorded before October 7th, Rabbi Danny Burkeman and David Bryfman discuss in…
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In the midst of war, the essential and timely work of Jewish educators must continue. That is why on this week's episode of Adapting, David Bryfman discusses the ongoing hot-button issue of Artificial Intelligence and its role in education. On the cusp of 2024, educators don't have a choice: they must embrace this technology, or else they're going …
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How and why does the ability to navigate ideological differences within classrooms matter to Jewish education — and beyond? In this session, Esther Friedman will discuss her recent study on the lived experiences of Orthodox teachers who teach Bible in pluralistic community schools and the institutional-level challenges they face. Originally recorde…
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What have we learned about Jewish learning in the past, where are we today, and what do we still need to learn for the future? Join MCSJE for this special Spotlight Session in honor of Brandeis University’s 75th anniversary, at which Brandeis scholars of Jewish education shared some of the most important developments in the field of Jewish educatio…
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During the eight nights of Hanukkah, Jews all over the world publicize the miracle of the holiday by lighting menorahs by the window for everyone to see. However, this year feels different, as we grapple with the horrors of October 7th and the current climate of antisemitism in the midst of war. In this special Hanukkah episode of Adapting, here to…
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Beyond lifting the spirits of teachers and students, play in Jewish education spaces can also shape moral development and character. Drawing from his new research, Judd Kruger Levingston shares how teachers and administrators can cultivate "a moral ecology of play" in classrooms, hallways, gathering spaces, and playgrounds. In this session, Levings…
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During a time of war, it's so important to maintain and uphold our spiritual selves as well as community, two traits that are essential to Judaism. As the first yeshiva of its kind in Israel, the BINA Secular Yeshiva serves as a place where young adults can do just that while promoting Jewish pluralism and social justice. This week's episode of Ada…
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Imagine that you work on a U.S. college campus today while Israel is at war. Meanwhile, your Israeli cousin texts you from her mamad (safe room in an Israeli home) asking if you're okay given the rise in antisemitism on college campuses. That's what happened to Merav Fine Braun, executive director at Hunter College Hillel in New York City, given th…
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Rebecca Bardach has devoted her life to progressive education and coexistence between Jews and Arabs living together in Israel. How does she maintain strength and hope during these dark times? Listen to a candid discussion with David Bryfman as she provides a firsthand, on-the-ground account of life in Israel, where she retells the heart-wrenching …
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Most histories of American Jewish education deride 19th-century Jewish Sunday schools. But when Laura Yares looked more closely at the curricula, the operative philosophies and the experiences that students and teachers had in these schools, she found that they did important cultural work. In this session, she discusses her recent book, Jewish Sund…
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Right now, alongside the war in Israel, there is a battle occurring in America, one that plays out in academic settings through ideas that use Israel as a weapon for antisemitism. Joining us in this provocative and timely episode is Dr. Rachel Fish, esteemed scholar and self-proclaimed warrior on the Middle East and Israel. David Bryfman and Dr. Fi…
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During this time of war, it's imperative that educators and parents remain a calm presence for children. In a webinar held by The Jewish Education Project, Dr. Samantha Vinokor-Meinrath holds a conversation with Israel educator and mother Dr. Sivan Zakai on the importance and best practices on talking to children about Israel and the current situat…
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The Jewish community is still reeling from the massacre that Hamas carried out in Israel over one week ago. In a somewhat cathartic conversation, David Bryfman and Rabbi Dr. Josh Ladon unpack their experiences as both educators and parents in helping educators and children grapple with a multitude of feelings. They emphasize that w​​hen dealing wit…
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In the wake of devastation and sorrow coming out of Israel, Jewish educators have been grappling with how to best communicate the events unfolding with their students. Through grief and heartbreak, they will flick some imaginary switch in their minds and hearts and do what they do best: be Jewish educators. This week on Adapting, CEO David Bryfman …
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As a reputable scholar of contemporary American Jewish education, Dr. Arielle Levites is curious about all things Jewish, from "Jews of no religion" to what Jewish education looks like both inside and outside the institutional setting. On this week's episode of Adapting, David Bryfman and Dr. Levites talk about using curiosity to fuel research on t…
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To kick off an inspiring new season of "Adapting: The Future of Jewish Education," David Bryfman dissects the origins of Sunday School in America with Laura Yares, as the pair discusses her new book, Jewish Sunday Schools: Teaching Religion in Nineteenth-Century America. This exploration, including a deep dive into the important role women played i…
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As educators, we all have a lot to say. But in this special season finale of Adapting, we flipped the script and got to hear from the learners! CEO David Bryfman sits down with his two kids, Jonah and Abby, for an exclusive interview about their Jewish education. Join us as the dynamic duo reveals favorite topics they've learned at Jewish Day Schoo…
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According to the latest CASJE study, there are more than 14,000 Jewish Day School educators in the U.S. How would the future of the Jewish people change if every one of these educators made it a priority to tap students on the proverbial shoulder who they identify as becoming part of the next generation of Jewish educators? Joining David Bryfman on…
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Building educational spaces for teens is no easy task -- especially for those with viewpoints considered by some to be outside the mainstream, or even radical. Enter Club Z, a community for teens to connect and socialize over a shared love of Israel and being Jewish. In this episode, David Bryfman speaks, and even spars, with Club Z founder and exe…
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Every person has a story to be told, and today’s episode of Adapting tells one individual’s unlikely journey to become a Jewish educator. David Bryfman met Elyssa Hurwitz of Moishe House at a recent conference for Jewish educators when she volunteered from the audience to partake in David's interactive keynote presentation, to explore what it means…
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In a time of shortage of Jewish educators, today’s episode of Adapting focuses specifically on why one would even consider becoming a Jewish educator today, asking such challenging questions as: how has the role of educator become more difficult than it once was? And how can we, as a culture, better champion the profession? This week's guest is Avi…
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Your Shavuot is about to be elevated by this special episode of Adapting, where you will experience the profound wisdom of Rabba Yaffa Epstein, The Jewish Education Project's Senior Scholar and Educator in Residence. Rabba Epstein and David Bryfman's discussion, brimming with intellectual insights and ideas around the holiday, practically becomes a…
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Gender, feminism, and power are all salient features of adolescent development today. Jewish youth is certainly no exception, and Jewish education must tackle some of these challenging issues today if it is to be relevant and meaningful for today’s learners. This week's Adapting guest, Shuli Karkowsky, is incorporating these themes into Jewish educ…
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May is Jewish American Heritage Month, and what is more Jewish American than teens spending the summer at camp exploring their culture? Since the postwar era, summer camps have been driven by intentional and ideological education (think Zionism, Yiddish and Ashkenazi culture, etc.). No one understands this history better than this week's Adapting g…
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In the 1990s and the early 2000s, Jewish educators and educational institutions started talking about “vision” in a new way, prompted by the efforts of the Mandel Foundation and especially its influential leader Seymour Fox. For many, the publication of Visions of Jewish Education (2003) was a landmark event in the field. Jon A. Levisohn discusses …
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According to this week's Adapting guest, Liron Lipinsky, w​​hen it comes to youth programming, teens come for the social component and stay for the educational experiences. Is this tactic a bait and switch? No. In fact, it's the secret sauce to teen engagement. In this episode, BBYO's VP of Enrichment discusses with David Bryfman how to leverage in…
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There is much at stake for the future of Jewish education in these rapidly changing times. Last week, The Jewish Education Project released a comprehensive report, From Census to Possibilities: Designing Pathways for Jewish Learners, on the current state of Jewish supplementary schools in North America, the first of its kind since 2008. On this wee…
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Data can be used as an effective and important tool for measuring success of Jewish engagement. But what are the data points we are looking for? And once we have that data, how can we use it to the best of our ability to better understand our audiences and the factors that motivate them to live a more Jewish life? On this week's episode of Adapting…
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Today we can interact with machine learning in new, unprecedented ways. Educators can ask a chatbot to write lesson plans at the click of a button. Students can incorporate their selfies into the Exodus story. Artificial Intelligence has the potential to revolutionize Jewish education, and this emerging technology is also raising ethical concerns a…
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In the past, Jewish families, like many others, offered girls fewer educational opportunities than boys. But that has not been the case for some time now. In her recent scholarship, Ilana Horwitz demonstrates the ways that girls raised by Jewish parents complete more years of college and attend more selective schools than girls from comparable soci…
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The way educators talk about identity has direct impact on how learners see themselves reflected in Jewish tradition. That is why LGBTQ+ advocacy and embracing gender identity work is imperative for Jewish education. Talking to David Bryfman this week on Adapting is Dubbs Weinblatt (they/them), Founder and CEO of Thank You for Coming Out, who advoc…
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There are almost one million Israelis living in the United States today. This includes immigrants who came to America as Israelis and discovered their Jewishness in different and exciting ways, and their children who have grown up pretty much like other Jewish Americans... just with Israeli parents. Now these families as Israeli American Jews and t…
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Mahloket—that is, dispute or principled debate—has long been celebrated as a Jewish ideal, not only within Jewish texts (where sages debate laws, interpretations and principles) but within the practice of engagement with those texts (where, for example, students might engage in debate about laws, interpretations or about principles). What does Mahl…
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Schlep, klutz, shvigger... Yiddish is more than a few kitschy words. The language embodies and celebrates Jewish culture and daily life that is often lost to a younger generation, and can be used as a tool to get learners excited about connecting to Jewish life. This week on Adapting, David Bryfman speaks with Susan Bronson, Executive Director of t…
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A rabbi walks into a bar... and opens a Jewish house of learning. Imagine a tavern playing Israeli music, the walls lined with old books written in Hebrew or even Aramaic, and patrons coming together to discuss those texts and other Jewish ideas while sharing food and drink inspired by cuisine of the diaspora. You don't have to imagine a communal J…
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Children’s ideas about the world are rich, nuanced, sometimes amusing and surprising, and for Anna Hartman, always fascinating. In this session, she shares her doctoral research in the field of early childhood Jewish education, in which she explores the theories about Judaism that are held by young children, and provides a window into their process…
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