Courses at Paideia are based on Jewish text and use the Hevruta technique. This is the traditional Jewish method of studying a text in pairs or small groups, where the fellows interpret the text together, conducting a dialogue with each other and with the text, debating its possible meanings.
Hevruta in the Paideia context is utilized to explore the relevancy between Jewish sources and contemporary European society, to pursue expressions of interaction between Jewish text and the arts, and to make evident the commonalities between the different cultural vocabularies represented by the fellows, who in any given year come from 14-16 different countries.
The authoritative voice of the text that might occur in conventional studies is here substituted by an interpretative culture with empowered subjects. The students approach the text in their own manner, and the teacher is a guide in the textual world rather than a definitive authority.
Crucial to these tasks, all texts are taught from a standpoint of respect yet with an insistence on maintaining a high level of academic and critical thinking, thus allowing for the integration of different national, cultural, political and religious experiences all in one institute.
Here is how some of the Paideia fellows explain Hevruta:
“Because of our cultural repertoire, it changes the interpretation and I actually think that meaning and interpretation forms during the discussions, and there is no final one.”
“People from different educations bring ideas and experience based on their own specific background, which helps to see the text differently.”
“You can both freely formulate your own ideas and hear other peoples’ views. The understanding of the text becomes deeper and wider.”
Read more about Hevruta studies in an intercultural context in an article by Paideia scholar-in-residence and regular Paideia visiting scholar Yair Lipshitz: