Third Space Conference

About Us

The Third Space referred to in the conference title is a borrowed term, originally coined by Ray Oldenburg in his book The Great Good Place. There it identifies a social space that is neither work nor home, such as a coffee shop or bookstore. These spaces are considered essential for their ability to foster a different way of being that is neither exclusively professional nor personal. A Third space, it is argued, is important for the development of a broader public discourse and civil society.

We have re-purposed the term to describe a kind of educational setting. Jewish education is often described as “formal” or “informal/experiential.” “Formal” Jewish education usually means schooling, but has come to also describe a style of education that is structured, serious, and intellectually rigorous. “Informal” or “experiential” usually refers to anything educational that occurs outside of the classroom — such as summer camp, youth groups, Israel trips, or service learning — but has come to describe a style of education that is affective, immediate, and fun. The notion of the ‘‘Third Space’’ eschews this dichotomy.

As emerging adults find their way, they grapple with existential questions, asking themselves “Who am I?”; “What is a good life?”; “Where is my place in the world?” We believe that Judaism can engage these questions, but to do so, it must move beyond the categories of formal and informal toward a broader and deeper understanding of Jewish learning. This conference is one modest step in that process.

The Third Space Conference is made possible by Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life and The Jim Joseph Foundation.

Third Space Conference Advisory Committee
Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld
Beth Cousens, PhD
Aaron Dorfman, MA
Rabbi Josh Feigelson
Rabbi James Jacobson Maisels
Rabbi Elie Kaunfer
Orit Kent, PhD
Jon Levisohn, PhD
Rabbi Miriam Margles
Rabbi Scott Perlo
Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg
Rabbi Dan Smokler