MCSJE News & Events -I- October 2023

Resources for Talking to Children and Students about Israel

With the horrifying news coming out of Israel, it may be difficult to find a way to speak to your children or students about the unprecedented attack. But, as Dr. Sivan Zakai has learned from the Children’s Learning About Israel project, "every child deserves an explanation of the current moment that is, at once, age-appropriate and honest."

Zakai shares resources in a recent article on Kveller, in the Jewish Journal, and on the Life Kit podcast.


Announcing the Next Cohort of the Senior Fellows Program

Mazel tov and welcome to the members of the second cohort of the Senior Fellows program:

Rabbi Scott T. Aaron, PhD, JUF Education of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago

Dr. Sara Smith, Milken Community School

Rabbi Dr. Daniel Smokler, OOI

Rabbi Dr. Laura Novak Winer, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

The MCSJE Senior Fellows Program invests in and nurtures senior scholars of Jewish education who have the unique and valuable vantage of serving in leadership roles in programs, organizations, or institutions. The program is designed to connect a small group of peers and provide them with the opportunity to collaborate and contribute their unique talents and expertise as scholars-leaders.

The SCRoLL Lab Meets the READS Lab

In a visit to Harvard University, members of MCSJE's SCRoLL Lab team discussed research methods, literacy curricula, and the guiding philosophies of their work with the READS Lab, a research-based collaborative initiative designed to identify and scale adaptive solutions for enhancing children's literacy. Ziva Hassenfeld reflects on the two labs' shared commitment to literacy and what her team learned from the inspiring experience.

A New Study on What Matters to Jewish Kids

Dr. Sivan Zakai and Dr. Lauren Applebaum, both of HUC-JIR, have launched a new research study about how contemporary Jewish children make sense of what it means to live in these extraordinary times, and how their educators make sense of what it means to teach in them. Learning and Teaching about What Matters features Jewish children enrolled in both day and supplementary schools, and their educators. It situates the ideas of both children and their educators as central to the work of Jewish education.

Learning and Teaching about What Matters is funded by an award from CASJE (Collaborative for Applied Studies in Jewish Education) at The George Washington University and is a research project at the Mandel Center.


MCSJE is committed to sharing its research findings broadly with other scholars and practitioners in an effort to strengthen the field of Jewish education scholarship. To that end, please find links to current and past MCSJE research.

How Students Respond to Sacred Texts

MCSJE's Ziva Hassenfeld appeared on The Dybbukast podcast as part of their series featuring the Brandeis University Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. In the episode "Studying Sacred Texts," Professor Hassenfeld describes how children develop interpretations of the Hebrew Bible and shares both the tensions and the opportunities that exist within learning environments.

Making Jewish Education Vibrant

In a recent article in Sources, Joshua Ladon, member of the first MCSJE Doctoral Fellows cohort, discusses the value of peer-reviewed research in Jewish education. He highlights the quality of the research conducted for three recent books: Making Shabbat: Celebrating and Learning at American Jewish Summer Camps and Inside Jewish Day Schools: Leadership, Learning, and Community, both publications of the Mandel-Brandeis Series in Jewish Education, and My Second Favorite-Country: How American Jewish Children Think About Israel.


All MCSJE events are free and open to the public. Pre-registration is required.

Learning About Learning

Professor Laura Yares in conversation with Professor Jonathan Krasner

What 19th Century Jewish Education Can Tell Us about Jewish Education Today

Date: Thursday, October 19

Time: 1 - 1:30 p.m. ET via Zoom

Most histories of American Jewish education deride 19th-century Jewish Sunday schools. But when Laura Yares looked more closely at the curricula, the operative philosophies and the experiences that students and teachers had in these schools, she found that they did important cultural work. In this session, she will discuss her recent book, Jewish Sunday Schools: Teaching Religion in Nineteenth-Century America, and describe what educators can learn from this pioneering generation in American Jewish education. The session will be led by MCSJE's Jonathan Krasner. 

Register now

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