Current ResearchersBelow is a list of researchers funded by Tag:
The following research projects have been sponsored by the Tag Institute.
To read more about each of these projects, please click on the project titles.
Dr Nechama Hadari considers Jewish approaches to Teenage Pregnancy. She stresses that before proposing strategies to deal with the issue, we must analyse with care what exactly the problem is. We find that Jewish sources and practices prompt us to question the conventional, secular approach. Click here for the text of her report.
Rabbi Ira Bedzow is designing a course on human flourishing for high school students that is far more than just a summary of moral theories. The aim of the course is to promote among students both the knowledge and the will to live a morally-motivated life of human flourishing based on Jewish social values.
Tali Berner is offering a new framework for the creation of a Jewish ethical approach towards children. This ethical approach is based on Jewish views regarding children in Jewish texts, and on Jewish practices around the world today.
Dr. Jennie Rosenfeld offers an interpersonal sexual ethic which emerges from the Talmud. From the void of guidance related to sexual decision-making which has been the aftermath of the sexual revolution, she attempts to bring out Jewish sources which contain universal sexual values. With the belief that looking to Jewish sexual values can help to provide a meaningful framework for all people and not just Jews, she uses a literary approach in the attempt to appropriate two Talmudic narratives to contemporary reality. Click here for a text of her report
Dr Nava Silton is developing a video-based, curricular intervention that offers hands-on sensitivity training about students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other disabilities. This curricular intervention for upper elementary and junior high school students is based on Halachot or Judaic principles relating to B’tselem Elokim (in the Image of G-d), Tikun Olam (for the good of society), and Empathy/Solidarity with the Sufferer.
Dr David Rosmarin is developing a manualized treatment for GAD, which is the most prevalent anxiety disorder and presents a significant health risk for cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. Since GAD is known to be treatment resistant, it represents a pressing social issue that is in need of novel conceptual frameworks and treatment methods. As part of the project, a Torah-based conceptual framework for GAD and related symptoms will be developed and empirically evaluated. This project will harness Torahknowledge for the benefit of society by providing a new treatment program for a common, disabling, and treatment resistant psychological disorder.
Nicole Fox-Mandelbaum’s research in Rwanda is informed by three Jewish social values: memory; naming; and justice and reconciliation. The case of Rwanda offers insight into the role of memory in post-conflict communities. The results of this study can apply to current issues of mass violence and destruction. Furthermore, international government organizations, development foundations, and NGOs (especially those addressing gender violence, torture, and war), working to manage the aftermath of mass violence would benefit from the results of this study.
Dr Steven Pirutinsky investigates marital satisfaction, family functioning, and parenting through an explanatory framework comprised of the following Jewish values: (1) interdependence, (2) shared S/R-informed values, (3) community integration, and (4) values-based parenting. The study advances research in this area by highlighting the relevance of these Jewish values, which have been neglected in previous religion and mental health that almost exclusively focuses on intra-psychic aspects of religiosity and spirituality. It will utilize couples and family data to explore the relevance of concordance and discordance on religion and values to couples interdependence, parenting, family functioning, and community integration.
First Lady Michelle Obama has made the study of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) a priority, announcing that 130 medical schools across the United States are pledging to adjust their curriculum and provide programs to promote the study and treatment of the disorder. We believe that Jewish social values can contribute to this study by offering a framework through which to understand how people may react differently to the same event. Rabbi Ira Bedzow and Asher Siegelman seek to develop this theory based upon examining four different paradigms of reaction to a significant, traumatic event found in the Talmud and accompanying rabbinic literature.
Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz is developing an argument skills curriculum geared to foster moral and epistemic development. This curricular intervention is for high school students, and is based on key Jewish social justice texts in the rabbinic tradition. The goal is to enhance students’ growth as critical thinkers, public advocates, leaders, and global citizens.
Professor Simon Dein and Professor Kate Loewenthal are developing a conceptual framework, based on empirical research, that may contribute new insights into the important issue of the connections between spirituality and mental health. In particular they focus on the impact of religious ritual – specifically the Jewish Sabbath. Ritual has been very neglected in developing understanding of the connections between religion, spirituality and mental health. They be interviewing Jewish adults about their experiences of Sabbath observance and its impact on well-being. .
Shlomo Bolts is developing a Torah-informed conceptual framework on solitary confinement and conducting empirical studies on this framework’s resonance. The result will be an evidence-based intervention that feeds directly into the new Uri L’Tzedek-TAG action research project on solitary confinement. Through his findings, Shlomo hopes to deliver tangible benefits to future Uri L’Tzedek and TAG programs, to the Jewish community, and ultimately, to society at large.
David Baruch explores how religious communities struggle with stigma toward mental illness, treatment seeking, and distrust of secular mental health professionals. These problems may be compounded by distrust of science as a means to alleviate suffering and promote well-being. Consideration of Jewish social values informs the use of qualitative research as a culturally-competent and acceptable means to apply social science to address needs in a religious community. The Jewish focus on Mesorah (wisdom transmitted through the ages) is naturally balanced by its value of learning from everyone (Anivus, humility). Qualitative research, by not imposing experimental theories, goals, or worldview onto a community and instead empowering a community by accessing its wisdom, provides a means for a culturally-closed community to utilize social science to address its needs. By exploring participant experience, perspective, and recommendations through open ended interviewing and thematic analysis, outcome data can be shared with the community in accessible and understood format (e.g., participant’s own words). The proposed study is designed to illustrate this approach with the Orthodox Jewish community, a relatively culturally-closed community which both struggles with stigma toward mental illness and has traditionally distrusted the use of social science. The proposed study applies a phenomenological approach in which mental health professionals in the Orthodox Jewish community will be interviewed to a) explore how religious leaders may be facilitating or interfering with mental health treatment, b) develop a list of recommendations for relevant mental health treatment partners, and c) inform future culturally-competent research in other relatively closed religious communities.
Chen Levin is researching the organizational, inter- organizational, communal, cultural, and ethical issues which are involved in partnerships with academic, local, and international communal development organizations. Her research will highlight religious beliefs and values as a critical component of understanding the volunteering phenomenon and examine the importance of Jewish values, and their impact in shaping volunteers and students’ willingness to volunteer in the field of humanitarian activities and international aid.
Dr Ephrat Huss and Kinneret Pollack compare phenomenological explanations of pictures of houses drawn by children who have experienced high stress of disasters or war experiences in different communities coping with disasters. Rather than understanding houses as projective images of the individual as in Western psychology, the aim of this study is to understand how children living in collective cultures use house drawings to express values that protect them from trauma. The arts as a form of resilience is informed by the Jewish concept that crises is often part of a process of growth. This assumes that symbols and images will also become ways of coping with crises, rather than only expressing it as in diagnostic literature. An immediate outcome of the research will be a case study of children’s art from different perspectives. The long-term outcome is an evidence-based working model for utilizing the arts in disaster areas from a culturally sensitive perspective.
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Tag Institute is a Think Tank and Research Centre that promotes interdisciplinary research integrating insights from Jewish texts and practices with the methods and concepts of the social sciences to create interventions that promote the wellbeing of individuals, families, communities, and society.