Student Voices

Write On! RHSOE Education Students Interrogate Hot Topics in the Field

(Sociology of Jewish Education, Los Angeles, Tali Zelkowicz, Ph.D.)

True agents of change use their passion, but are then able to go beyond. This is why my students begin by clarifying their passionate “soap boxes” in the Sociology of Jewish Education course I teach for graduate students in Jewish education at the LA campus. That assignment is a 1-page “Cyber Soapbox,” in which students write with abandon, and express, unfettered by facts or multiple perspectives, their deepest, truest feelings about any one contested arena in Jewish education. For example, students share impassioned tirades about what is wrong with “Bar Mitzvah factories,” “why Hebrew schools fails to teach any Hebrew,” or “how Israel education can be mis-education.” By the end of the semester, however, the students have used social scientific tools and research to produce an article that combines their passion, along with fresh, bold alternative visions that are grounded in scholarship and empirical reality, not just their own experience or “kishkeh data.” Although these articles have gone through multiple drafts and revisions, the students still feel that their ideas are works in progress, and welcome your feedback. But they hope these “contributions to the field” are the first of hopefully many more they will make.

Here are six articles from Fall 2013, authored by Ashley Berns, Dusty Klass, Jay LeVine, Daniel Utley, Miriam Farber Wajnberg, and Zachary Zysman. Please feel free to share your reactions with the authors, who have shared their email addresses. Enjoy!

Click on the titles of the articles below to read them (PDF)
  • Write On!
    Tali Zelkowicz, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Jewish Education, Rhea Hirsch School of Education, Los Angeles

    You can find the 2010 CTFs below. Shortened versions of the students' articles were also published in the Spring 2010 issue of the URJ's publication, "Torah at the Center." Allowing for discourse and dialogue between students and professionals in the field, URJ editor Wendy Grinberg has invited one education practitioner or academic to respond to each of the student's pieces in that same issue, creating an organic series of conversations about some of the field's most difficult, but also most inspiring, dilemmas.

    The students would be happy to engage in dialogue with you, too, if you have any questions or reactions. If you would like to offer your own responses, please feel free to send them to Tali at

    Click on the titles of the articles below to read them (PDF)

  • Hot Topics in Jewish Education: Students Weigh In
    At the end of the fall 2007 semester, Tali Zelkowicz of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at HUC-LA and Lisa Grant of the School of Education at HUC-NY gave the same final assignment to their students in Social Foundations (LA), and History of Jewish Education in America (NY.)

    Education students were asked to write a 4-6 page article (double spaced) grounded in the scholarship of the field that is suitable for a publication to which reflective practitioners of Jewish education are invited to contribute. For example: Agenda: Jewish Education (JESNA), Jewish Education News (CAJE), Jewish Educational Leadership (Lookstein Center, Bar Ilan University). Click here for the complete description of the assignment.

    Click on the titles of the articles below to read them (PDF)

  • © 2013 Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion