“You Never Told Me”: The Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) of Israel Education

Benji Davis, Hanan Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although there have been many studies describing the practice of Israel education, few, if any, have explored the pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) of this subject matter—what teachers know about how best to teach it. In this phenomenological study, 20 teachers in English-speaking Jewish high school settings in the USA, Israel, Australia, and Canada were interviewed to describe the components of their PCK. This research demonstrates that disappointment in the idealization of Israel by previous generations has impacted how today’s Israel educators in Jewish high schools understand the purposes of their discipline, the curricular choices they make, the instructional strategies they employ, and the context in which they teach. Addressing this unique phenomenon, which has come to be known by the slogan “you never told me,” has become a guiding instructional principle in the field as teachers about Israel prepare their students to maintain their Jewish commitments while transitioning from an immersive Jewish learning environment to becoming nuanced participants in conversations concerning Israel on college and university campuses. In addition to contributing to limited discourse on the teacher knowledge of Israel educators to improve the practice of the field, the findings of this paper emphasize the need for a pedagogy for complex Israel education deepening nuance and commitment to Israel. On the basis of the findings, we propose a model with eight design principles for how to do Israel education effectively in Jewish education frameworks, both formal and informal.

Original languageEnglish
JournalContemporary Jewry
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.


  • Israel education
  • Israel educator
  • Pedagogical content knowledge
  • Teacher knowledge
  • “You never told me”

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Religious studies


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