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The Study of Text as a Religious Exercise

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Publication Date: January 1999

Publisher(s): Jewish Education Service of North America

Author(s): Elyse Goldstein

Special Collection: Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Topic: Culture and religion (Religion and religious groups)
Education (Adult, technical, and vocational education)

Keywords: Informal Jewish education; Adult education; Religious denominations; Jewish Text

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


While adult education is experiencing a resurgence in the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements of Judaism, the author argues that adult education in Torah and Talmud cannot fully succeed in the non-Orthodox world if it operates on an unspoken assumption that the only reason to study Torah is to learn practical lessons from it about how to be a member of the Jewish community. While this is true in the Orthodox world, the author notes, in Liberal streams of Judaism it is possible to be a fully functioning member of the community, and even a community leader, without expertise in text study and Jewish law. Yet, the author contends, text study is vital for Jews, including non-Orthodox Jews -- not because of the need to know, but because of the need for meaning and for transformational religious experiences.

In Agenda: Jewish Education, ed. By Arthur Vernon, no. 12, Summer 1999, p. 22-25