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Author: heathcl

Opposite Sides of the Street—locations in the “field” of Jewish ethnography

On opposite sides of the street on the corner of 54th Street and 13th Avenue in Borough Park are two very different kinds of eateries. On one side of the street is a “hip” café called 1982, and on the other is an unassuming-looking kosher take-out place, Shem Tov Catering. I spent some time in each of these establishments last… Read more →

Entexualization and Orality in 19th Century Jewish Music

The 19th century saw a proliferation of transcription of Jewish sacred music using the tools of western musical notation. This process of entextualization of oral music traditions has been understood in different ways by the major commentators on Jewish music and by the collectors themselves. The founders of the Jewish Folk Music Society in St. Petersburg, operating in the first… Read more →

Thinking Twice about Jewish Identity

For much of the latter 20th and early 21st century, the field of Jewish education has developed an almost obsessive focus on identity. Jewish educational endeavors have been variously committed to building it, strengthening it, enriching it — whatever “it” might be. But, if the purpose of Jewish education is to foment the creation of Jewish identity, then how conscious… Read more →

The Framing of Religious Experiences

This quarter I’m auditing a philosophy course, Science, Religion and Democracy, which aims to address some of the tensions between science-based and religion-based beliefs and methodologies (not that the two are mutually exclusive). During the introductory session, the difference between testimony and evidence was highlighted, and a question arising out of that was whether religious experience could be considered as… Read more →

Being Muslim on Campus: Pressures and Possibilities

In light of recent political events, The Atlantic published an article on The Muslim Student’s Burden in the Wake of Terror, noting how Muslim students are under pressure to respond to international events.  As I read the article, I found myself thinking about Shabana Mir’s (2014) ethnography, Muslim American Women on Campus, and the burden on her subjects. Mir studied… Read more →

Theology and the Study of Religion: A Conversation?

This past week, I had the privilege of attending a conversation between Graham Ward and Anne Taves at the annual conference of the American Academy of Religion. The dialogue between two prominent scholars, one of theology and the other of religion, revolved around the concept of “normativity” – or whether or not religious studies should contain a central constellation of ideas or… Read more →

Cantors and Borderlands

My current research project on the education of Cantors has drawn my attention to an obscure corner in contemporary Jewish culture. Apparently, Cantorial music, which was almost completely dominated by the “mainstream” liberal Jewish denominations in the post-WWII era, has been taken up of late by Chassidic Jews. In a recent interview I conducted with Cantor Yanky Lemmer, a star… Read more →

On Literacy

EdJS PhD Candidate Jonah Hassenfeld published this op-ed about the challenges with using multiple-choice tests to assess literacy. It is a pointed critique of the work of the Cohen Center at Brandeis to establish an objective set of measures crafted to assess “Israel Literacy.” You can read the report here and their own press release here. As the report’s authors… Read more →

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