Teaching Jewish History and Teaching Israel: The “Other” is Within “Our” Subject Matters

By :  Ofra Backenroth Associate Dean of The Davidson School and Assistant Professor of Jewish Education Posted On Feb 13, 2017 | Jewish Learning and the Non-Jew | Israel

Ofra Backenroth and Alex Sinclair: “‘Present Absentees’: On the Place of Non-Jewish Israeli Narratives in Israel Education”

Meredith Katz and Jeffrey Kress: “Middle School Students and ‘The Other’ in an Online Jewish History Simulation Activity”

Chair: Barry Holtz

This session was part of “Jewish Learning and the Non-Jew,” the 2017 Melton Coalition for Creative Interaction conference, hosted by JTS’s William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education. The Melton Coalition for Creative Interaction is a collaboration of the three centers endowed by Samuel M. Melton z”l at JTS, the Hebrew University, and The Ohio State University.

Ofra Arieli Backenroth is the associate dean of the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education of The Jewish Theological Seminary and an adjunct assistant professor of Jewish education. Her interests reflect an integration of the arts in Jewish education, Hebrew language, Israeli literature, and teaching Israel. Dr. Backenroth earned an MFA in dance education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a BA in comparative literature and an education diploma from Tel Aviv University. She is a fellow at the Institute for Israel Studies at Brandeis University.

Alex Sinclair is Director of Programs in Israel Education and an adjunct assistant professor in Jewish Education for The Jewish Theological Seminary. His main area of expertise is Israel Education, a subject on which he has published academic articles, written numerous op-eds, and lectured widely. He is also a Tanakh Education Consultant for JTS’s Legacy Heritage Instructional Leadership Institute. In addition, he is a senior consultant for Shaharit, an Israeli non-profit that works to bring diverse communities together to create a new kind of Israeli politics. He is the author of Loving the Real Israel: An Educational Agenda for Liberal Zionism.

Meredith Katz is a clinical assistant professor of Jewish education at JTS, teaching courses in constructivist pedagogy, curriculum development, the teaching of Jewish history and research methods. She is also a Project Director for the Jewish Court of All Time, an online Jewish history simulation. Research interests include Jewish history education and online pedagogy.

Jeffrey S. Kress is the Bernard Heller Associate Professor of Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is also a coordinator of the Research Center at the Leadership Commons of the Davidson School. He has a degree in Clinical Psychology and has written on Jewish identity, experiential Jewish education, and social, emotional, and spiritual issues in Jewish education.

Barry W. Holtz is the Theodore and Florence Baumritter Professor of Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary and co-director of the Melton Coalition for Creative Interaction. His most recent books are an edited volume of the collected writing of Professor Joseph Lukinsky z”l entitled Maybe the Lies We Tell Are Really True (JTS Press, 2016) and the Rabbi Akiva: Sage of the Talmud (Yale University Press, forthcoming in March 2017).