The Latin American Jewish Educator in a Transnational World (e-book). (PDF). Jerusalem, México, Buenos Aires, 2015. 287 p.
Synthesis, Conclusions and Recommendations (e-book). (PDF). Jerusalem, México, Buenos Aires, 2015. 104 p.

This project was a collaborative venture of The Liwerant Center for the Study of Latin America, Spain and Portugal and their Jewish Communities at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; the Universidad Hebraica and the Consejo Directivo de Educación Judía in Mexico City; and AMIA – Comunidad Judía in Buenos Aires. The L.A. Pincus Fund for Jewish Education provided financial support to the project.

The authors are Prof. Judit Bokser Liwerant , Prof. Sergio DellaPergola, Dr. Leonardo Senkman and Dr. Yosi Goldstein.
Latin American Jewish life was historically shaped by significant migration movements as well as by a diversified and vital educational Jewish system. Both dimensions show persistent features and radical changes that influenced and shape the profile of Jewish communities in the region in an increasingly interconnected world.

For Latin American Jews, Jewish education has been a fundamental basis for continuity. It was the main channel to transmit and project their cultural profile while creating common grounds and singularities among communities, and between communities and their host societies. Historical, political and ideological streams marked the original differentiation of schools and provided the structure to a singular dialogue between ideologies and political movements within a progressive Zionist hegemony.

At a time of great social, political and cultural changes, characterized by intense mobility, frequent international migration and significant relations across national borders, Jewish education faces undoubtedly new challenges. Latin American educational scenarios express and reflect new cultural and communitarian developments within a globalized Jewish world. An increased religious revival and the diverse profiles of Orthodoxy tend to redefine the educational ecology, and generate still more diversified Jewish educational systems. New challenges arise in the common public conversation and in the search for spaces where to build consensus. Jewish education today reflects current changes while concurrently offering an arena where these changes are negotiated.

Latin American Jewry grew out of large-scale immigration and was able to establish powerful and original patterns of Jewish life and community organization. During the last decades the net direction of migration flows rather tended to be from Latin America to other destinations, mainly the United States, Israel, and to a lesser extent Western European countries – including Spain – and Canada. These migratory trends have generated new social and demographic profiles and networks reflecting ongoing global, regional and local undercurrents, as well as longer-term constraints and opportunities.

In this dynamic scenario, Jewish day-schools together with a wide associative and institutional network of informal education stand at the edge of a sustained effort to guarantee the role of education in shaping the social and cultural profile of Jewish communities.
This new report provides a better understanding of the challenges arising from the new realities, and of the actions needed to meet them. It explores to what extent and in what ways a new global and transnational educational approach can contribute to increase the intellectual and social capital of Latin American Jewish communities in order to face the challenges of the 21st Century.

The study uncovers whether, to what extent and how Jewish educators understand and contribute to geographical, socioeconomic, and demographic continuity and change. It also shows how educators express their perceptions of ideational boundaries and contents, of social and institutional networks, and of intellectual allegiance and creativity.

The study’s unprecedented scope collected information on contemporary Latin American Jewish educators that operate in Latin America and/or in other countries across the Diaspora and in Israel. Topics covered included the personal and family background of educators, their training and professional profile, migration histories, satisfaction and aspirations in the educational sphere, personal and institutional ideological affiliations, normative and behavioral preferences, values and expectations about education, professional relations and collaboration across national borders.
The data were obtained through a detailed questionnaire, mostly through the internet and in some cases through direct interviews.

A master list of about 4,000 educators was created with the collaboration of all institutions involved in Mexico and in Argentina, the two main countries covered in this project. Joint efforts brought to compiling lists of educators originally from Latin America and living in Israel, in the United States, in other Latin American countries, and elsewhere. The final net sample included over 1,300 educators whose answers were coded and tabulated. Of these, 46.5% were in Argentina, 41.8% in Mexico, 4.9% in Israel, and 6.8% in other countries.

The respondents distributed all across the several ideological axes that animate today’s diversified and pluralistic Jewish educational system. Most respondents fulfilled different functions and tasks within formal day-school education, but they were also well represented in informal Jewish education and youth movements, in part-time religious and synagogue education, and in national and international organizations directly or indirectly involved with educational goals.

Answers were processed and analyzed preserving individual privacy for the exclusive use of research. The detailed results now available online are accessible to all participant educators and to all professionals, Jewish community leaders, and interested lay people who take Jewish education at their hearts.

The rich materials collected outline an unprecedentedly diversified, in-depth portrait of the educators who constitute one of the pillars of Jewish life, and illustrate their contributions to the diverse avenues of Jewish education in different Jewish communities worldwide.

Personal paths, experiences, visions and opinions truly define the Jewish educator. These essential ingredients help transmitting the historical legacy of Judaism and create a highly qualitative educational system at the edge of the profession and mission. Rapid technological and cultural transformations in contemporary societies determine new educational roles and challenges – at a time when the Jewish experience, in Israel and across the world, faces again old and new forms of defiance rooted in antagonistic political movements and bordering de-legitimation. At the same time, growing interest in and demand for Jewish culture in both Jewish and non-Jewish quarters require adequate supply of outstanding ideas and inspired personnel.

The teachers’ voice is the central focus of this research. The educators who participated in the study offer new insights on the real and potential impact of Jewish education, and offer a privileged vision of the contemporary Jewish world. The high degree of participation attained in the project ensures significant representation of all those engaged in this essential work.

This study will contribute to the design of innovative educational policies apt to face the many challenges emerging from ongoing societal change, namely from migration. A lengthy chapter deals with conclusions and recommendations. These include developing a mapping of Jewish education resources, increasing the investment in human and professional capital, and promoting the construction of Jewish educational networks at the national, regional and global levels. These efforts may lead to better exchanges of knowledge and to improved practices within the Latin American and worldwide Jewish educational system.