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What's the Problem with Jewish Education?

The term “Jewish education” sounds alien, even jarring, to Israeli ears. Israelis find it even stranger and more annoying than terms such as “democratic education,” “religious education,” and “Zionist education.” However, I hadn’t quite appreciated the discomfort and annoyance this expression can cause until I started working with a diverse team to create a new leadership program for Jewish education in Israel.

Every member of the team is committed to forms of educational practice that address directly the “Jewish” aspects of our shared existence in Israel. However, not only did we struggle to find words that we could all agree upon; but the words each member used were often unpalatable to the others, and occasionally even to themselves! To experience this confusion and unease firsthand, I recommend looking at this clip we produced, based on informal “street surveys”. Why does the term “Jewish education” sound so uncontroversial, trivial even, to Jews outside of Israel, and yet cause Israelis such discomfort?

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