A first in Israel: Melton Center of Hebrew University offering MA course in Jewish education, taught in English

Melton Center seminar for visiting educators (photo: Hezi Hojesta)September 8, 2013: The Melton Center for Jewish Education of the Hebrew University will open for the first time this fall a new master's degree program in Jewish education, taught in English, designed for students from abroad, both Jewish and non-Jewish.

The one-year program will explore Jewish education and its dialogue with the social sciences, philosophy of education, and Israeli culture. The program will also acquaint the students with research in Jewish education and will deal with the goals, approaches and problems involved in conveying Jewish culture and the teaching of Jewish subjects in Israel and in communities abroad.

Dr. Zvi Bekerman, head of the Melton Center, said that "until now, diaspora Jews who were interested in Jewish education but were not fluent in Hebrew studied at various institutions abroad, such as the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Hebrew Union College or Yeshiva University. In doing so, they missed out on the Israeli experience, which provides an added dimension to Jewish studies. The new Hebrew University program provides an answer to this situation and makes it possible for participants to not only study Jewish education but also to become acquainted with Israel."

Additionally, continued Dr. Bekerman, the program is applicable not only to Jewish students but also those of other religions. "There are in the world several non-Jewish groups which have displayed great interest in Jewish education and believe that there is something special about the way that Jews raise and educate their children; they want to learn from us the 'secret,' with thoughts of improving their own educational channels. Others, members of minority groups, such as the Basques and the Tibetans, are interested in finding out how, through education, Jews are able to preserve their legacy in the world. Until now, such groups were only able to look into this by visiting us at the university, while this new program will make it possible for them to gain a deeper understanding of Jewish education and to acquire the educational tools that will help them in their homelands."

Many times, said Dr. Bekerman, "people hear the term 'Jewish education' and right away link it to concepts that apply only to the religious sector. But Jewish education goes far beyond that; it has within its power the ability to convey to educators new approaches and views that will expand their educational tool kits. The program also will also not hesitate to touch on issues that are controversial, such as the inclusion of the Palestinian narrative in the learning of contemporary Jewish history."

The Melton Center is the only academic center in Israel which offers higher studies in Jewish education, incorporating both masters and doctoral programs. The Center's courses cover a wide range of courses in various disciplines and methodologies.

Source: Marketing & Communication, Hebrew University