The ultimate challenge for Jewish education today is to determine for ourselves and our students, “Why do we need a Jewish education?” Or, more to the point, “Why be Jewish?”
Our Philosophy of Education class grapples weekly with these questions. Indeed, answers to these existential questions are vital for the continued presence and contribution of the Jewish people in the Diaspora, and, for that matter, in Israel as well.
Our Philosophy of Education class has now moved on from the classic philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Dewey, and Kierkegaard, (none of whom to our knowledge much cared about the Jews), to Jewish thinkers such as Herman Cohen, Leo Baeck, Mordechai Kaplan, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Franz Rosensweig. These Jewish thinkers are the ones, of course, who wrestle with the existential questions posed above. And, over time, the list will include names such as Twersky, Greenberg, Brinker, Shneirer, Brous, Meyers, and several other men and women who understood the great challenges of Jewish life, and who attempted to offer cogent and satisfying answers.
And they all care deeply about the Jews.
As I may have mentioned in an earlier blog, there is nothing more exciting and important today than the study of Philosophy of Education.
Our masters degree students are challenged by thinkers past and present, and then motivated to develop their own philosophies of education, philosophies that will help to reinvigorate and sustain the Jewish people for years to come.
How exciting to be on the cutting edge of this moment in Jewish history in America when perhaps the greatest need in our Jewish schools is more powerful stories that will inspire parents and students, stories that will ensure Jewish families choose a strong Jewish education because they truly understand “why” it’s so important. And, the stories all emanate from clear and well articulated philosophies fashioned by our students.
The world of philosophy of education is, indeed, the world of tomorrow.