We asked some of the academics, teachers and professionals on our advisory committee to begin the conversation before the conference by writing short blog posts in response to the following questions:
1. Describe an approach to engage Jewish emerging adults in Torah study that is personally meaningful?
2. How does this approach resemble and differ from other more familiar forms of Jewish education? How much of this approach is based on the physical setting – summer camp, college campus, yeshiva, etc?
3. What can we learn from the best teachers of Torah to apply to our work with Jewish emerging adults?
4. How do we best train educators to work in this emerging field of Third Space that is either entirely formal nor informal, and where personal meaning plays a significant role?
All of our respondents seem to be looking for more comprehensive integrated modes to study text with emerging adults. Miriam Margles argues that the study of text must incorporate inner transformation to lead to social change. Also interested in the social change is Aaron Dorfman who describes AJWS´ approach to the study of Torah as attempt to get beyond “aphorisms” and “cherry picking” issues. Jon A. Levisohn examines one student´s experience in his class on the reading of sacred texts and how it became much more than an intellectual experience. Elie Kaunfer offers practical suggestions to change the mode of Torah study to increase its power and impact in the lives of emerging adults, and James Jacobson-Maisels describes the study of Hassidic text with an eye toward personal transformation.