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MEETING A NEED IN JEWISH EDUCATION: BRINGING ACADEMICS
AND EDUCATORS TOGETHER

January 16, 2008 – An international conference at Brandeis University on January 27-28 brings academics and classroom teachers together to share ideas and develop new research questions. The conference, titled Teaching Rabbinic Literature: Bridging Scholarship and Pedagogy, convenes Jewish studies professors, rabbis, and day school teachers who share a common goal of improving Jewish education. Targum Shlishi is funding a post-conference publication to disseminate the ideas and innovations explored during the proceedings.

The event, organized by the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis, invites academics and practitioners to learn from one another on panels and in working sessions. This format, which will bring educators of all levels together, is considered a “cutting edge” practice in general education, and is new to Jewish education.

There will be sixty presenters over the course of two packed days, in sessions focused on teaching rabbinic literature in a multitude of settings including day schools, adult education settings, rabbinical schools, and synagogues. More than two hundred Jewish educators will attend the event.

“The enormous response to this conference shows how eager Jewish educators are to have this kind of interaction with colleagues,” said Jon A. Levisohn, conference chair and assistant academic director of the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education. “These educators are passionate about teaching Talmud, mishnah and midrash, but have very few opportunities to think and talk and study the substantive issues in their teaching. This conference will help us bridge the divide between schools, synagogues, universities and yeshivot.”

The emphasis will be on questions and joint inquiry, rather than tips and techniques. This conference follows an earlier Mandel Center conference in 2005 on teaching Bible.

“Rabbinic literature is a core of Jewish tradition and Jewish education,” notes Aryeh Rubin, director of Targum Shlishi. “At a time when Jewish education faces so many challenges, it is more important than ever to foster the lively exchange of ideas between academics and teachers at every level. Unfortunately, it was my personal experience, and the experience of many, that much of the time spent in Talmud class could have been significantly more productive, to say the least. We are delighted to participate in a program that will help turn things around in Gemara class.”

For more information on the conference visit the website. Video documentation of the conference sessions will be available at www.brandeis.edu/centers/mandel/TeachingRabbinics.html soon after the conference.

About the Mandel Center
Founded in 2002 as the first academic center of its kind, the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education is dedicated to transforming the quality of teaching and learning in Jewish education by supporting innovative research, pioneering new approaches to professional development and shaping discourse about the purposes and practices of Jewish education. The Mandel Center’s Initiative on Bridging Scholarship and Pedagogy in Jewish Studies promotes the improvement of the teaching of Jewish studies in multiple settings, through research by and critical dialogue among scholars and teachers. For more information on the Mandel Center, visit its website at www.brandeis.edu/mandel.

About Targum Shlishi
Targum Shlishi, a Raquel and Aryeh Rubin Foundation, is dedicated to providing a range of creative solutions to problems facing Jewry today. Premised on the conviction that dynamic change and adaptation have historically been crucial to a vibrant and relevant Judaism and to the survival of its people, Targum Shlishi's initiatives are designed to stimulate the development of new ideas and innovative strategies that will enable Jewish life, its culture, and its traditions to continue to flourish. For more information on the foundation, visit its website.

For Media and Other Inquiries
Contact Targum Shlishi at 305.692.9991 or e-mail info@targumshlishi.org.

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