January 2022

(Midrashic) Petichta Pedagogy

Marta Eichelberger-Jankowska
Jerusza (Yerusha) Program Director
Taube Center for the Renewal of Jewish Life in Poland Foundation Warsaw, Poland
The midrashic form of the Petichta invites an approach to pedagogy that embraces difference.

In recent years, we find ourselves living in a world dominated by strife, division, alternative facts, contradictory statements and beliefs that seem mutually exclusive. People fight for their one and only truth and leave no space for discussion or consideration of another point of view. Following in the footsteps of Franz Rosenzweig, who believed that answers to modern Jewish dilemmas can be discovered through a careful study of classical rabbinic texts, I posed the following questions: How did the Sages of the era of classical Judaism react when they found themselves in a highly divisive social environment? How did they deal with multiple contradictions and paradoxes found in the Torah and in rabbinic literature? Why are the contradictions in the text at all? And what can they teach us? As I was researching, a common midrashic literary form known as the petihta came to my attention.

Marta Eichelberger-Jankowska is the Jerusza Program Director at the Taube Center for the Renewal of Jewish Life in Poland Foundation. She holds a BA in Hebrew and Jewish Studies from University College London and an MA in Experiential Education and Jewish Cultural Arts from the George Washington University. Within Jerusza’s framework, Marta designs educational experiences for Jewish professionals in Poland and creates space for them to learn from each other so that together they may contribute to strengthening the Polish Jewish communities.


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