Paideia has, since 2000, provided a one-year Jewish studies program for academics to practice textual literacy. Until this year, however, there has not been a formal popular education program for Jewish Studies in Sweden. This has since changed with Paideia’s foundation of a new Jewish Cultural college. The program has been several years in the making, and Paideia’s administration is excited at the prospect for several reasons. In this article, Paideia’s founding director Barbara Spectre, gives her take on why the founding of a Jewish Cultural college is an exciting concept for many.
Barbara Spectre has spoken openly on the prospect of Paideia’s founding of a Jewish Cultural college and how it will have a positive impact on the greater cultural discussion. Spectre has stated “…the notion of being able to open up and interact, not only teach Judaism but have people react to Judaism and be part of the discourse, I think is a tremendously and increasingly important aspect of how a Jewish institute should function in the world today”. Barbara Spectre displays a commitment to the spirit and goals of folkbildning—that is, seeking knowledge with openness and freedom. Paideia and the program do not shy away from critique when it comes to evaluation of teachings and encourages them as part of intimately interacting with the texts.
Spectre also notes that it is important to utilize our own voice when learning Jewish subjects, and the concept of being able to freely evaluate texts is a huge benefit to the cultural conversation. She notes that there is “something about being able to add your own voice, and in a sense, differing from former interpretations, there is something still incomplete.” There is an inherent value to one’s personal experiences and grasping the concept of cultural modernity when interacting with religious texts and establishing their relevance in today’s world. Too often do we shy away from debate and questioning when learning subjects that are important to us, but Paideia wishes to encourage open-minds and the concept of cross-cultural learning. After all, Abdulkader Habib (Director of Kista Cultural College, the sole Islamic Cultural College in Swden) provided the mentorship and interest in equitable representation of minority cultures in terms of adult level learning and played an instrumental role in the establishment of Paideia’s cultural college’s establishment.