The Interplay between Education and Identity Formation with a Special Focus on Jewish Education: A Proposal towards a Holistic and Identity-Centered Education
This research project explores the interplay between education and identity formation with a special focus on Jewish education. It presents a historical study of the development of Jewish education and identity formation since its beginning, focusing on the major shifts and challenges that engulfed the Jewish community in the United States in the early twentieth century in addressing the issue of how to nurture a post-modern Jewish identity. The central question of this study is: How can an understanding of the interplay between Jewish education and Jewish identity formation inform efforts to educate for the formation of a holistic, identity-centered and pluralistic religious education? The thesis of this study is that the history of Jewish education, especially during the early twentieth century, can be a resource that offers insight on how contemporary Jewish educators can address the most significant challenges they face today. It explores how the leadership of Dr.’s Benderly, Chipkin and Dushkin helped shape Jewish education in the United States in the early twentieth century by centralizing and unifying it. This study also examines how the progressive teachings of John Dewey and the leadership of the Religious Education Association (REA) impacted Jewish religious education and identity socialization in the United States in the early twentieth century. The study employs a philosophical and theological methodology to demonstrate how the different theologies of revelation including the progressive theology of Mordecai Kaplan had a direct impact on the development of progressive Jewish education, and the formation of a new sense of Jewish identity in the United States in the mid-twentieth century. Most importantly, this study presents new research of archival materials of the YIVO institute at the Center for Jewish History in New York that chronicle the journey of the leadership of the Jewish Education Committee (JEC) during 1944–50, focusing on its effort to foster “Unity within diversity” by unifying the different religious denominations within Judaism through a search for a common denominator and effort to create a common language of “seven core elements” for Jewish religious education. This study proposes a holistic model for an identity-centered education based on a sense of “beyonding” (Horell 2016.) That is, the researcher argues that religious education can and should guide people to develop a firm sense of religious identity within a specific religious tradition, but that it should then lead people beyond that tradition to further develop their sense of religious identity by engaging in a fruitful interplay with the currents of thought and action in their socio-cultural context. The study also argues that such an interplay should be expanded so that it involves inter-faith dialogue. The study focuses specifically on religious education to develop a pluralistic sense of Jewish identity in the United States, but also suggests how identity-centered education could be utilized in other contexts and in the field of secular education as well.
Religious education|Judaic studies|Religious history
Rabinovich, Abraham L, "The Interplay between Education and Identity Formation with a Special Focus on Jewish Education: A Proposal towards a Holistic and Identity-Centered Education" (2020). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28157111.