Author Archives: Jen Glaser

About Jen Glaser

Hi. I am the founder and Director of 'Engaging Texts'. As an educator I have been involved in Philosophy for Children for around 30 years - and I have been involved in informal and formal Jewish education even longer. Four years ago I decided to bring these two passions together through developing the field of "Philosophical Inquiry in Jewish Education". I am so happy to have met, and been able to work with, so many of you in this process. My goal over the coming years is to continue to develop and expand this field. I would say more about why, but you can rad about that on the website. I also want to say that this endeavour would not have been possible without the generous support of both the Covenant Foundation and the JECC in Cleveland Ohio, for which I am very grateful!

NewCAJE -sharing our session on Megilat Ruth

Experiencing PIJE at NewCAJE
 The first and last sessions engaged participants in inquiries around Biblical texts. In these sessions we chose to use art in different ways: the first, to create a ‘gallery of laughter’ to trigger an exploration of Sarah’s reaction to the news she would have a child and, in the last session, to explore artists’ interpretations of the relationship between Naomi, Orpah and Ruth in Megilat Ruth.  The second session ‘”Beyond the first question” focused on skills of inquiry, whereas the third, longer session, offered an opportunity to explore both the ‘theory behind the practice’ of this approach, including videos from the classroom. 59 educators took part in the sessions, several coming back again and again!

Below we offer you the session on Ruth’s silence in depth, including the materials and lesson plan. If you try it – let us know how it goes by writing in the comments section below!

Interpretations of Naomi’s Silence 
Ruth’s famous plea to Naomi to let her come with her is one of the best known parts of the Megilat Ruth – we expect Naomi to be happy, to be touched by this moving speech and reach out to Ruth…. but what really happens next?  In the text we are told that Naomi’s response to Ruth is silence:

יח  וַתֵּרֶא, כִּי-מִתְאַמֶּצֶת הִיא לָלֶכֶת אִתָּהּ; וַתֶּחְדַּל, לְדַבֵּר אֵלֶיהָ 18  And she [Naomi] saw that she [Ruth] was determined to go with her, and she stopped speaking to her
…יט  וַתֵּלַכְנָה שְׁתֵּיהֶם, עַד-בּוֹאָנָה בֵּית לָחֶם 19  And they went on both of them, until they arrived to Beit Lechem…

What does it mean to “cease speaking” to someone? (וַתֶּחְדַּל, לְדַבֵּר אֵלֶיהָ).  Was her silence a way of giving Ruth permission to come, or was Naomi simply left speechless? Was it a way of stepping back and letting Ruth make up her own mind or does she then just ignore Ruth as each continued the journey in their own space (וַתֵּלַכְנָה שְׁתֵּיהֶם)? What else might it have meant? After exploring our own uses of silence we returned to the text and explored what we thought Naomi’s silence meant as we looked at a range of traditional and modern commentaries, including seven different images of this moment portrayed in art and sculpture.  Breaking into groups we then created a ‘freeze frame’ of this moment as we interpreted it. Hold your curser over the photos below to hear how we interpreted the scene!

To access the resources used in this session  click here.

To access the lesson plan click here  

Place your curser over the pictures below to see what the educators have to say about their ‘still frames’

 “Thank you for a meaningful session about Naomi’s Silence. You have so beautifully invited us to read the text from different perspectives. Focusing on Naomi’s silence became an essential detail in my reading the Megilah.”                          Esti BenDavid



Studio 70 workshop at Edah – August

Studio 70, Edah and Engaging Texts
Edah, an afterschool community in Berkeley, has been working with Engaging Texts to bring PIJE to their program since 2013. With the birth of Studio 70’s Jewish Learning Innovation Core  two years ago this relationship has now become institutionalized. This August we inducted a new group of JLIC fellows into philosophical inquiry along with providing advanced work in curriculum design for staff and second year Fellows.  “Beginnings” is the opening theme for Edah this year – a fitting topic given Edah has just moved to a new physical location.  Under the guidance of Yafit Megidash, we developed this theme through the lens of PIJE during the workshop. Studio 70 is also a regional hub for a yearly National workshop in PIJE, and Yafit is also now taking PIJE to other schools in the Bay area. If you are interested to know more, contact Yafit at Studio 70.
* Picture: Engaging in reflective writing as part of our workshop.

NewCAJE in August

From Sarah’s Laughter to Naomi’s Silence: Experiencing PIJE at NewCAJE
NewCAJE offered a great opportunity to bring PIJE  (Philosophical Inquiry in Jewish Education) to a wider gathering of Jewish educators over this summer. Jen Glaser (Engaging Texts), Susan Morrel (Hebrew College, Boston)  and Yafit Megadish (Studio 70, Berkeley) joined forces to run four sessions that introduced participants to key aspects of this approach. The first and last sessions engaged participants in inquiries around Biblical texts. The second session: “Beyond the first question” focused on skills of inquiry, while a third offered explored both the ‘theory behind the practice’ of this approach, including videos from the classroom. 59 educators took part in the sessions, several coming back again and again! Read more and access  the resources used in one of the sessions.
*Photos: Interpretations of Naomi’s Silence in Megilat Ruth



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Professional Development for the Whole School – JESP in Cleveland

Bringing the Approach of Engaging Texts to the Whole School:
Temple Emanu El, Cleveland, OH

Engaging Texts  partnered with the Professional Development Branch of the JECC to offer a workshops on August 13th 2017 in the Cuyahoga nature reserve for teachers of  Temple Emanu El school and to the regional meeting of NFTY madrichim. The two hour sessions focused on The Art and Power of Questioning. 

Pictures and Comments – Hebrew College

Boston Workshop: Hebrew College July 2017
Building on last year’s success,  educators headed out to Hebrew College again this July, for a beginner’s workshop in Philosophical Inquiry in Jewish Education. The workshop was a collaborative venture between Hebrew College and Engaging Texts.
The workshop was followed by an additional day to consult with Education Directors.
Come back soon to see comments and view pictures from the workshop.

Sample Curriculum

Upper Primary Curriculum Example: lech L’cha

Please click here to go to the Sample Curriculum “Lech L’cha” that is detailed in the following article:

Capture-lech-lchaDr. Jennifer Glaser and Dr. Maughn Rollins Gregory (2016), “Education, Identity Construction and Cultural Renewal: The Case of Philosophical Inquiry with Jewish Bible” in The Routledge International Handbook of Philosophy for Children, eds: Maughn Gregory, Joanna Haynes and Karin Murris : Routledge, UK.


Link to article


Who We Are

Meet the team behind Engaging Texts

Jen Glaser

Jennifer Glaser, PhD.
Founder and Director of Engaging Texts.
Jennifer Glaser




Howard Deitcher

Rabbi Dr. Howard Deitcher
Senior Bible consultant to Engaging Texts Network
Dr. Deitcher works on the development of curriculum, leads professional development seminars, and engages in strategic thinking around the development of the Engaging Texts network. Dr. Deitcher is a senior lecturer at the Melton Centre for Jewish Education at the Hebrew University and its former director. He is the current educational director of the Revivim Program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, training students to teach Bible in Israeli national secondary schools. Dr Deitcher spent a sabbatical year working with Professor Gareth Matthews in schools and has been active in the field of Philosophy for Children for over 25 years.

Maughn GregoryProfessor Maughn Rollins Gregory, J.D., Ph.D.
Senior consultant to the Engaging Texts Network 
Maughn Gregory is a senior consultant to Engaging Texts, collaborating around the articulation its theoretical conceptualization, developing evaluation tools, and taking part in professional development workshops. He succeeded Matthew Lipman as the director of the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children at Montclair State University – the world’s oldest organization devoted to young people’s philosophical practice. Gregory is a Professor of Educational Foundations at Montclair. He publishes and teaches in the areas of philosophy of education, Philosophy for Children, pragmatism, political philosophy, gender, Socratic pedagogy and contemplative pedagogy.

Benjamin BarnettBenjamin Barnett
Web developer and Webmaster, Engaging Texts
Benjamin Barnett is co-owner of media schmedia LLC. He and his wife / business partner, Halle, provide branding, marketing, and web design services for small businesses, non-profits, educators, artisans, and other small-but-beautiful ventures throughout greater Cleveland, across the US, and around the world. Benjamin is also a volunteer educator trained in Philosophical Inquiry. He facilitates a group of 5th-7th grade students in an ongoing Philosophical Inquiry with Parshat Hashavuah on shabbat mornings at Kol HaLev, Cleveland’s Reconstructionist Jewish Community.

Meet Engaging Text’s Partnerships

Jewish Education Center of Cleveland
Judith SchillerJudith Schiller
Coordinator of Philosophical Inquiry in Jewish Education at the JECC, 





Shoolman Graduate School of Education, Hebrew College
Alvan KaunferRabbi Alvan H. Kaunfer
Coordinator of Philosoph
ical Inquiry in Jewish Education at the Shoolman Graduate School of Education, Hebrew College.
Rabbi Kaunfer is Director of the Congregational Education Initiative at Hebrew College and is working in close partnership with Engaging Texts in developing Boston as a regional hub for advancing Philosophical Inquiry in Jewish education. Rabbi Kaunfer served as a Rabbi at Temple Emanu-El, Providence for 25 years. He was also the founding Director of the Alperin Schechter Day School in Providence, which he headed for 13 years. He is a graduate of Brandeis University, Teachers’ College of Columbia University, and was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary, from which he also holds a Doctoral degree in Education. 

Over 70 Leading Educators and Jewish Professionals

Cleveland Seminar-educators

Students of all ages

Boston Community of Practice: Hebrew College, Nov. 2015

Boston-TuBiShevat COP-nov2015

Rabbi Alvan Kaunfer, center front, leads the project in Boston in partnership with Engaging Texts.

Boston Community of Practice: Hebrew College, Nov. 2015
A dynamic group of educators gathered for a morning of professional development as part of an ongoing Community of Practice around Philosophical Inquiry in Jewish Education at Hebrew College. This initiative  is led by Rabbi Alvan Kaunfer in partnership with Engaging Texts.

Members of this commuity of practice took part in a four day professional development seminar workshop at the Shoolman School of Education, Hebrew College in June 2015.

During the session we explored design elements behind the curriculum and then put this to practice by creating a community of philosophical inquiry around the concept of ‘growth’ as reflected in curricula for Tu Bishevat.

Welcome to Engaging Texts

The Engaging Texts network provides a space where people engaged in the innovative practice of Philosophical Inquiry in Jewish education can learn from one another and develop strategic partnerships across communities throughout North America.  The network provides partners around professional development;  facilitates the growth of cross-communal collaborations and provides an online library of curriculum materials to network members. “One of the things I appreciate the most is learning with other educators I would …. read more