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Jewish Festivals in Three Textbooks A Comparative Study Concerning the Depictions of Jewish Festivals in Three Textbooks for the Course Religion 1 in Swedish Secondary Upper Education

By Emelie Holm


The purpose of the study is to analyse the representations of Jewish festivals and how they affect the teaching in three textbooks for Religious Education 1 in Secondary Upper Education. The textbooks are Religion och livet (2007) written by Börge Ring, Religionskunskap för gymnasiet (2009) written by Lars-Göran Alm and Religion 1 för gymnasiet (2012) written by Lennart Göth, Katarina Lycken Rüter and Veronica Wirström. The basis for the study is the phenomenological perspective as described by Émile Durkheim and in particular Carl-Henrik Grenholm and Karl-Johan Illman. It tells that religion cannot purely be understood as a religious belief without its rituals. This phenomenological perspective on religion both the curriculum and syllabus encourages. Therefor the comparative study focuses on the rituals of the religious festivals. The benchmark for the analysis on the textbooks is Illman’s three options for how to comprehensively describe Judaism. His first suggestion is to follow the historical development from the oldest sources to present, trying to outline Judaism through time. The second suggestion is to describe Judaism by a systematic compilation of its doctrines and beliefs. The third option, which Illman prefer, is to base the introduction to Judaism on its religious festivals since it includes the other two perspectives. The analysis determine which of these options the authors have chosen. A quantitative study is used to determinate which Jewish festivals are described in the textbooks and a comparative study is then used to illustrate the differences between festivals from the quantitative study. The didactic triangle is used to illustrate the consequences of aberrations from the curriculum and syllabus. The result of the study is that the authors of the three textbooks have chosen different strategies to introduce Judaism to the readers. The textbook Religion och livet (2007) explains the festivals that are the core of the Jewish ritual calendar, except for the Sabbath which is mentioned but not further explained. In Religionskunskap för gymnasiet (2009) only the Sabbath is presented. All other Jewish festivals are completely omitted here. In the textbook Religion 1 för gymnasiet (2012) all the festivals are described. The conclusion of the study is that teachers always have to examine textbooks critically before using them. Once a textbook is being used the teacher must be aware of its strengths and weaknesses and to compensate where the textbooks are lacking

Topics: Jewish Festivals, Religious behaviours, Textbooks, Religious Education, Curriculum, Syllabus
Year: 2013
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