Beyond Jewish Identity

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Jon A. Levisohn, Ari Y. Kelman
  • Brookline, MA: 
    Academic Studies Press
    , September
     290 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Tyson Herberger forthcoming.


There is something deeply problematic about the ways that Jews, particularly in America, talk about “Jewish identity” as a desired outcome of Jewish education. For many, the idea that the purpose of Jewish education is to strengthen Jewish identity is so obvious that it hardly seems worth disputing—and the only important question is which kinds of Jewish education do that work more effectively or more efficiently. But what does it mean to “strengthen Jewish identity”? Why do Jewish educators, policy-makers and philanthropists talk that way? What do they assume, about Jewish education or about Jewish identity, when they use formulations like “strengthen Jewish identity”? And what are the costs of doing so?

This volume, the first collection to examine critically the relationship between Jewish education and Jewish identity, makes two important interventions. First, it offers a critical assessment of the relationship between education and identity, arguing that the reification of identity has hampered much educational creativity in the pursuit of this goal, and that the nearly ubiquitous employment of the term obscures significant questions about what Jewish education is and ought to be. Second, this volume offers thoughtful responses that are not merely synonymous replacements for “identity,” suggesting new possibilities for how to think about the purposes and desired outcomes of Jewish education, potentially contributing to any number of new conversations about the relationship between Jewish education and Jewish life.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Jon A. Levisohn is the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Associate Professor of Jewish Educational Thought at Brandeis University, where he serves as the director of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education.

Ari Y. Kelman is Jim Joseph Associate Professor of Education and Jewish Studies at Stanford University, where he serves as director of the Concentration in Education and Jewish Studies.


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