June 12, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Mandel Center for the Humanities Atrium, Brandeis University

June 13, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Hassenfeld Conference Center, Brandeis University

Free and by invitation. Kosher meals provided; an outdoor space will be available for meals.*
Because the conversations we have planned build on each other, we ask attendees to attend the conference in its entirety.

register here

This in-person and invitational conference to be held at Brandeis University will bring together education scholars, artists, funders and education policy makers who seek to explore the holistic, aesthetic, affective and knowledge of artistic experiences in order to understand their educational potential. . While previous studies of Jewish cultural arts have defined the arts primarily as a gateway to increased Jewish community involvement, this lecture will start from the assumption that an encounter with or production of Jewish culture and art offers experiences Jewish and educational institutions in their own right.

We will begin with a series of creative experiences that will provide us with case studies of the arts that we can explore together, including a joint music session led by “Let My People Sing.“Our keynote speaker is George Mason University Associate Professor of Educational Psychology and co-director of the Mason Arts Research Center, Dr. Kimberly Sheridan, whose work has been featured in The New York Times and The Boston Globe. Using our collective creative experiences, she will help us explore how people learn in the arts and how contexts shape learning.

Our panel features artists whose work addresses critical themes of race, ethnicity, identity and discrimination: Anthony Mordecai Zvi Russellsinger, composer and arranger specializing in Yiddish songs; Galeet DardashtiSephardi/Mizrahi musician and scholar; Jenni Rodolphe, Executive Director of Lunar: The Jewish Asian Film Project; and Rachel Linsky, a dancer/choreographer/educator, from the project, Zachor. In conversation, these artists will highlight the unique ways the arts can create educational opportunities for Jews and non-Jews to explore these questions together.

Our final session features three educators and community organizers whose work sheds light on the multigenerational dimensions of Jewish arts educational environments, and the diverse ways in which creative projects encourage us to expand our understanding of the Jewish canon. Join us as Rabbi Lex Rofebergco-host of Judaism Unbound; Lou’s Cove, Executive Director of CANVAS; and Laura Mandelexecutive director of JArts Boston, share their work.

Throughout the conference, participants will have the opportunity to convene in small think tanks that will bring together artists, educators, funders and community organizers to share conversations and thoughts.

See you in Boston as we explore:

– How can the affective dimensions of Jewish artistic experiences lead to paths of learning and discovery?

– How the arts can help us redefine and reframe theories of Jewish education beyond cognitive outcomes and the acquisition of information or “content”, and towards the valuing of aesthetic experience and the flourishing of a vibrant Jewish culture as a goal?

– What role can Jewish cultural arts play in Jewish lifelong education, especially for learners who are not members of Jewish institutions?

– How can the arts distinctively open up conversations about ethnicity, race, racial justice and equity in Jewish spaces?

*Brandeis University Covid protocols information continues to be updated here.


Dr Laura Yares is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Michigan State University and an Affiliate Scholar at the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis University. She is a scholar of American Judaism with a multidisciplinary background in history and ethnography. With Sharon Avni (CUNY), she is currently working on a study for a book on Jewish learning in the context of cultural arts.

Anthropologist and performer/composer Dr. Galeet Dardashti gained a reputation as an interpreter, educator and advocate of Jewish culture in the Middle East and North Africa. She is widely known as the leader/founder of the Sephardic/Mizrahi female ensemble Divahn, and through her multidisciplinary commissions The denomination (Six Points Scholarship) and Monajat (FJC, IU and MFJC); she is currently a Virtual Artist-in-Residence at Indiana University’s Jewish Studies Program. Dardashti’s scholarly publications examine Israeli music/media and cultural policy in Israel and the United States. She has held postdoctoral fellowships at NYU and Rutgers and was Assistant Professor of Jewish Music/Musician-in-Residence at JTS in Manhattan.