Pedagogy of Kinyan Torah: Helping Students Develop Their Own Interpretations of Torah
January 2023

Pedagogy of Kinyan Torah: Helping Students Develop Their Own Interpretations of Torah

Ilana Gleicher Bloom
Founder of Mensch Academy at Mishkan Chicago,
Doctoral Candidate in Jewish Education, Coordinator of Pardes Experiential Educators Program
The pedagogy of Kinyan Torah helps educators support all learners to find their own unique Torah within themselves.

The concept of Kinyan Torah is the Jewish idea of acquiring Torah, which I see as making Torah your own. The pedagogy of Kinyan Torah helps educators support all learners to find their own unique Torah within themselves. As Jewish educators, we can create the conditions to help learners discover their own Torah, and thus help them feel empowered and heard as Jews. A Jewish educator’s role in this process is to set up a learning environment where learners can find ways to express themselves and discover their own ideas and connections to Torah. In order to help learners interpret text, educators need to be prepared to listen and to ask questions that help them develop interpretations. Asking open-ended questions, listening, and offering follow-up questions can help students articulate and form their own ideas.

Ilana Gleicher-Bloom was the founding Vision Director of Mensch Academy at Mishkan Chicago and is currently working as an Educational Consultant to Mensch Academy, creating and leading professional development, coaching, and writing curriculum materials. She spent a year learning Torah at Midreshet Lindenbaum in Jerusalem, before starting at Brandeis University, where she graduated with a BA in both Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and English and American Literature. Ilana spent three more years living and studying in Jerusalem, where she was a Pardes Fellow at the Pardes Institute and a member of the inaugural cohort of the Melamdim Teacher Education Program at the Shalom Hartman Institute and Tel Aviv University. Before launching Mensch Academy, Ilana taught Talmud and Tanakh at Rochelle Zell Jewish High School in Deerfield, IL, and at the Heschel High School in New York City. She received the Pomegranate Prize from the Covenant Foundation honoring rising leaders in Jewish education. Ilana and her family recently moved to Jerusalem, where they have been exploring and getting to know every ice cream shop in the city.
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