Book: Textbook Gods
Chapter: To Learn about the Other and to Get to Know Him: Judaism and the Jewish Community of Quebec as represented in Ethics and Religious Culture Textbooks
The “Ethics and Religious Culture” (ERC) program, recently (2008) introduced in all primary and secondary schools in the province of Quebec, has been a subject of numerous analyses and debates (Estivalèzes 2009; Milot 2007; Racine 2008).
Its opponents, religious and non-religious alike, dispute the acknowledgement in the classroom of religious pluralism within society. They also emphasize that transmitting beliefs about diverse religions in the classroom is an impossible task for teachers who do not necessarily share them. Even those who support the programme worry that, in order to fulfil its objectives—notably to allow youth to discover the different influences on their society’s history as well as on contemporary culture and values—teachers will need to access considerable information and acquire deeper understanding of diverse doctrines, philosophies and beliefs.
The immediate and universal establishment of the programme in all classes, without a transitional period, has heightened the role of ERC textbooks in providing that information not only to the children learning from them, but also to the teachers using them. The study of Judaism and the portrayal of Jewish communities in these textbooks will be the subject of this chapter.