Jewish Teachers’ Experience with Religious Microaggressions in Public Schools in the United States

Keren Fefer Adler, Fordham University


Schools are a microcosm of the larger sociopolitical landscape and given the increase in instances of anti-Semitism within the United States, issues of religious-based discrimination and anti-Semitism also appear to be significant within schools. This study explored the lived experiences of Jewish teachers working in public schools in the United States with a specific focus on their experiences of religious microaggressions and the impact these experiences have had on their careers and personal lives. Semi-structured interviews and the Interpretative Phenomenological Approach (Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009) were used to generate descriptive knowledge about participants’ subjective lived experiences, and a constructivist-interpretivist research paradigm (Creswell, 2013) was used to conduct the analysis. Participants engaged in interviews, which were then transcribed verbatim, in which both parties were able to share freely and flexibly in an iterative, collaborative questioning process to elicit “themes.” Data analysis yielded 4 major themes and 12 sub-themes. The major themes included: (1) Childhood Experiences of Being Jewish, (2) Being a Jewish Teacher in a Christian Majority Nation, (3) Raising Awareness about Judaism, and (4) Experiences of Religious Microaggressions. Implications for both teacher education programs and school-based support for teachers who may face anti-Semitism and religious microaggressions are outlined as well as suggestions and tangible tools that school leaders may use to support teachers in the workplace.

Subject Area

Multicultural Education|Judaic studies|Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

Adler, Keren Fefer, "Jewish Teachers’ Experience with Religious Microaggressions in Public Schools in the United States" (2021). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28543163.