Hebrew Religious School education
Sherman, Jerome Nathaniel
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Judaism stresses the concept of education continuously. It has been important in the past. It is important in the present. It will be important in the future. Education is one of the bulwarks within the Jewish religion. From the time one is old enough to understand until the day one dies, the Jew is expected to study - to continually expand his knowledge and broaden his horizons and awareness. In fact, religious education is stressed to such a degree that it has become one of the sancta within Judaism. Such weight is placed upon this activity that it overshadows many other important religious activities. In traditional Judaism, one is to recite prayers from the prayerbook every day. It is stated in rabbinic literature, however, that if one is deeply absorbed in studies, he should not interrupt his studying even though it is time to pray. Thus we can perceive on what a high level Jewish education was and is still held. Education covers a whole lifetime. This thesis, however, will discuss one area of this range - Jewish religious school education. It will be the task within the following pages to analyze and discuss the aims and objectives vis-a-vis the curriculum. There are three curricula examined within this thesis. They represent each of three major movements within Judaism - Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. Each curriculum is the official curriculum of each movement. This means that the curriculum is that one which has been published by the educational staff of the movement. It does not signify, however, that each and every temple or synagogue uses one of the three. There is no dogma or policy stating that Reform temple has to use the official Reform curriculum. The same is also true for the Conservative and Orthodox groups. The official curriculum is only a suggested one. Each temple or synagogue is autonomous. It does what it wants to do. It can use this curriculum completely. It can use only selections from it. It cannot use it at all. Simply, for the sake of order and comparison, the three official curricula have been chosen. Within each curriculum, the aims and objectives are stated. These will be analyzed and discussed. The major point to which this thesis is directed is that of the relationship between aims and objectives and the actual curriculum. Are the aims and objectives carried out in the curriculum? Is there an attainable rapport between the two? What kind of philosophy of education do the curricula reflect, and how is this related to the expressed goals? Young boys and girls spend many hours within religious schools. The Jewish boy and girl goes both to a secular school and a religious school. It may be said that in one instance they experience one type of culture while in the next instance they experience another culture. The latter culture, that found in the religious school, has a certain purpose - specific aims and goals. Are these aims and goals reflected within and attained from the curriculum?
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