Article Library / Policy Papers

Raising Jewish Children: Research and Indications for Intervention

Adult education has taken on a new cache in many communities, with increasing numbers of non-Orthodox men and women hungrily acquiring new Jewish intellectual skills and navigating familiarity with classical Jewish texts. Bethamie Horowitz sees adult learners as the most ideal possible students. Horowitz argues that what goes into Jewish education and what a student can take from it are influenced by Jews‘ position in society and the general atmosphere and attitudes toward education in society. She defines the new, contemporary frontier of Jewish education as adult learners because Jewish activity is “voluntary,” they are highly educated, and are “living in a American [sic] societal milieu that views Jews and Judaism in a favorable light.” Horowitz concludes, “It all comes down to consciousness (the opposite of indifference) and how to encourage that consciousness as much as possible. Consciousness involves a series of mental processes (i.e., awareness, reflectivity, ongoing learning, and meaning making) as well as a sense of will that arises from feeling that being Jewish will help you find your way or it will take you somewhere you want to go.”35

In some cases, this pursuit culminates in rabbinical study. For most adult learners, however, the fascination with Judaic materials, while deeply meaningful,36 does not change life so dramatically.37 It is worth noting that adult education undertaken after children have left the home has less impact on the next generation.