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CASJE: Growing a Base of Knowledge for Jewish Education

March 14th, 2018

A growing base of knowledge is developing for Jewish education practitioners to turn to for insights and best practices so they engage learners in the most effective ways possible. This development is critical for the field of Jewish education. Just as other fields, such as medicine and law, have research that informs and improves practice, CASJE (Consortium for Applied Studies in Jewish Education)—a community of researchers, practitioners, and philanthropic leaders—is committed to sharing knowledge to improve Jewish education.

One current long-term research project explores how Jewish early childhood education (ECE) can serve as a gateway for deeper and more sustained involvement in Jewish life. The study includes a focus on ways that ECE institutions can better engage interfaith families and families that are not currently involved in a synagogue or other Jewish institution.

We want to equip communities with the knowledge and skills to welcome in families of all Jewish backgrounds as effectively as possible.
– Lesley Matsa Said of The Crown Family, which is funding the research program

Another project, recently completed, was a three-part literature review series exploring what recent research about heritage, second, and foreign language learning means for the teaching and learning of Hebrew.

This research directly informs how educators teach Hebrew—plain and simple. We now have a clearer picture of what Hebrew language learners experience and we can apply this research to improve the outcomes in Hebrew language learning.
– Rabbi Mitchel Malkus, Head of School at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School of Greater Washington, D.C. and co-chair of the Board of Directors of CASJE

CASJE also is committed to developing the pipeline of future Jewish education scholars. As part of these efforts, an emerging scholar sits on CASJE’s Board and, each year, CASJE hosts an Emerging Scholars Seminar at the Network for Research in Jewish Education annual conference.

CASJE invited us—mentors and mentees all—to consult on its newly commissioned research project that investigates the extent to which Jewish early Childhood Education (ECE) may be a gateway to more meaningful Jewish educational experiences…There’s nothing like a good case study to animate thinking, to prod shareholders outside their comfort zones, and to advance “outside the box” rumination and reflection.
Matt Williams, 2017 Emerging Scholars Seminar attendee

Visit CASJE.org to learn more about its areas of research and ongoing projects, including its recent Problem Formulation Convening (PFC) to explore the recruitment, retention, and development of Jewish educators, supported by the William Davidson Foundation. The day-long gathering brought together a small group of scholars, practitioners, and funders with a set of shared concerns. The primary question at this PFC was: what would it take to recruit significantly greater numbers of talented people to the field of Jewish education, and what would be needed to sustain and retain those personnel once they have launched careers in the field? Through carefully facilitated conversations, the day developed an applied research agenda that can shape understandings of the career trajectories of Jewish educators in North America.