Forged by Jewish Historical Experience: The Study of Jewish History as a Crucible for Jewish Professional Learning
December 3rd, 2020
It’s May 2020. In North America, the COVID-19 pandemic has been wreaking havoc with people’s work and lives for almost three months. The participants in Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education are about to start a new course, the 10th in their two-year degree program. The program has a blended format, part online, part in person. This six-week course–XED 505 Jewish Historical Experience–is taught entirely online by Prof. Leah Hochman, an intellectual history professor at HUC-JIR who also teaches at the University of Southern California. As before every course, Hochman asks her students to complete a short survey about their prior experiences teaching or learning modern Jewish history. She checks what the students are curious about and whether they have any concerns about which they want her to be aware.
How this course–part academic exploration, part personal odyssey–touched the lives of its participants provokes questions about how Jewish educators might grow through academic and professional learning experiences, and toward what ends.
In 2018, HUC-JIR received funding along with nine other educator training programs from the Jim Joseph Foundation to create professional development opportunities. As part of the evaluation work for the initiative, Rosov Consulting is producing a series of case studies of the peak moments–some form of intensive, residential, or retreat component–of each program. This third case study explores HUC-JIR’s program.