Page 171 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 48

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HESSEL/TEXTBOOKS IN JEWISH EDUCATION
163
and teacher’s book. T h e re have also been published numerous
popu lar titles with guides, including
Jews in Distant Lands, The
Secret Grove, Joseph’s Wardrobe
and
Understanding Judaism.
It was
not until 1964, that the UAHC published a text on Israel re ­
vising the movement’s earlier stand on Zionism. T h a t year there
appeared
Israel Today,
for grades 7 through 9, followed by
Be­
hold the Land,
for the middle grades. They became the most
widely used texts on Israel in both Reform and Conservative
religious schools and have seen multiple printings.
CONSERVATIVE TEXTS
In the Conservative movement, the United Synagogue Com­
mission on Jewish Education was set up in the 1940s to serve
the educational needs o f its affiliated congregations. Part o f its
mandate called for the p repara tion o f ideologically based text­
books in keeping with its curriculum direction. In 1942, it pub ­
lished
The Objectives and Standards of the Congregational School
and
followed it up with a detailed curriculum guide. Instruction in
the early childhood classes was enhanced with
The Festival Series
of Picture Storybooks.
An ideological statement was made by il­
lustrations o f young boys wearing
kippot
(head coverings),
whereas the UAHC’s
Hear O Israel: The Shema Story Book,
a series
for a similar age group, showed uncovered heads in keeping
with Reform practice. T h e United Synagogue also published
two Jewish history series. In the 1950s, it released Deborah
Pessin’s three-volume
The Jewish People,
replete with activity
books, teacher’s guides and visual aides. Thirty-five years after
its first appearance, it remains a popu lar choice o f educators
o f all denominations. Educational research soon pointed to the
benefits o f the child centered and experiential curriculum . This
trend was reflected in the two-volume
The Jewish Experience
(1977), which involved greater studen t participation in the
learning process.
In response to the diversity within the Jewish world, the Unit­
ed Synagogue has recently released
The Jews: One People
(1989)
for the primary grades. In addition, it is now publishing ma­
terial for the adult who is re tu rn ing to the classroom, with such
titles as
What’s a Nice God Like You Doing in a Place Like This?
I t presents a series o f midrashim projected as real-life situations
in contemporary America.