Tradition and Autonomy: The Paradox of Contemporary Jewish Education

Publication Date: January 1982

Publisher: Rabbinical Assembly of America

Author(s): Barry Chazan

Research Area: Culture and religion; Education

Keywords: Jewish education; Academic research; Jewish continuity

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


The opposing forces of Tradition and Autonomy are factors which have defined contemporary Jewish education structurally, programmatically, and ideologically. Modern Jewish education is the heir of a system of Jewish schooling in which Tradition was the central defining force. At the same time, it constitutes a questioning, an ambivalence, and, in some cases, a break from tradition as the definitive force, with new prominence and centrality ascribed to the role of the autonomous choice of the individual. The question is whether the two forces are doomed to be at war, or if there some form of accommodation and synthesis between them.