Pray, play, teach: conversations with three Jewish Israeli music educators
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The current study focuses on what, how, and why music is being taught in the practices of three Jewish Israeli music educators. Participants included three high school music directors working in three main Jewish subsectors that constitute the main streams of public education in contemporary Israeli society: secular, ultraorthodox, and national religious. In contemporary Israeli society, these subsectors of Judaism are organized into communities differing in nuanced religious affiliations, geographic locations, and socioeconomic backgrounds. The subtle differences between these communities constitute practical and philosophical conceptualizations of being Jewish in the contemporary State of Israel. The government-mandated education system in Israel recognizes these subsectors as separate and segregated streams of education, organized into separate institutions, inspectorates, and curriculum. Music education in Israel, however, is mandated through a single national curriculum for all socioreligious sectors. The interest of this study is in the ways this single curriculum is enacted by various sociocultural nuances of Judaism in contemporary Israeli society. The research design was based on Scollon and Scollon’s 12-month framework of nexus analysis, developed for explorations of cultural implications underlying everyday actions. The study included three phases: (a) engagement—acclimation in practice sites and contexts; (b) navigation—discovering the key elements and moving between the individual and the social constructs that each practice entails; and (c) change—analysis that challenges the existing practices and inspires transformation. Data accrued through observation, interviews, and one focus-group session. The final stage focused on participant involvement in data analysis and representation. Findings are presented through a series of narrative texts: portraits of each participant, followed by scenes of practice, annotated with narrative testimonials designed from the words of participants. Introductory chapters address the main constructs upon which these narratives rest and fuel the interpretations that follow each of the narratives. Findings reveal interrelationships between music education and Jewish-Israeli intrareligious tensions. Conclusions call for further attention to the cultural implications of music educators’ situated work, in Israel and abroad.