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The Geographies of Jewish Education: Jewish Schools, Synagogues, and the Construction of Young People’s Jewish Identities

Samson, Maxim George Morris (2017) The Geographies of Jewish Education: Jewish Schools, Synagogues, and the Construction of Young People’s Jewish Identities. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

Faith schools represent controversial aspects of England’s educational politics, yet they have been largely overlooked as sites for geographical analysis. Moreover, although other social science disciplines have attended to a range of questions regarding faith schools, some important issues remain underexamined. In particular, contestation within ethnic and religious groups regarding notions of identity have generally been ignored in an educational context, whilst the majority of research into Jewish schools more specifically has failed to attend to the personal qualities of Jewishness. The interrelationships between faith schools (of all kinds) and places of worship have also received minimal attention. In response, this investigation draws upon a range of theoretical approaches to identity in order to illustrate how Jewish schools are implicated in the changing spatiality and performance of individuals’ Jewishness. Central to this research is a case study of the Jewish Community Secondary School (JCoSS), England’s only pluralist Jewish secondary school, with more extensive elements provided by interviews with other stakeholders in Anglo-Jewry. Parents often viewed Jewish schools as a means of attaining a highly-regarded ‘secular’ academic education in a Jewish school, whilst also enabling their children to socialise with other Jews. In the process, synagogues’ traditional functions of education and socialisation have been co-opted by Jewish schools, revealing a shift in the spatiality of young people’s Anglo-Jewish identity practices. Furthermore, JCoSS, as well as many synagogues, have come to represent spaces of contestation over ‘authentic’ Jewishness, given widely varying conceptualisations of ‘proper’ Jewish practice and identity amongst parents, pupils and rabbis. Yet, although JCoSS offers its pupils considerable autonomy to determine their practices, such choice is not limitless, revealing an inherent dilemma in inclusivity. The thesis thus explores how different manifestations of Jewishness are constructed, practised and problematised in a school space (which itself is dynamic and contested), and beyond.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Geographies of Education, Jewish Identity, Faith Schools, Religion, Ethnicity
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Geography (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr Maxim G. M. Samson
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2017 16:27
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2017 16:27
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/18663

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