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Informal Jewish education is usually juxtaposed with formal Jewish education.This is actually a fairly recent development in the history of education; the linguistic distinction did not exist in former times in either Jewish or general culture.The great challenge of education is to examine existing paradigms and dream of new ones.

First, since a lot of what happens within schools is informal education—for example, sports, debating societies, language clubs, and yearbook—the distinction is not precise.

Second, defining informal education in this negative way does not help us to understand what it is.

By looking at some prominent contemporary examples of informal Jewish education—among them, Jewish youth movements and organizations, camps ands retreats, Jewish family education, Internet sites, and pre-schools—we shall identify eight generic characteristics that define informal Jewish education as an individual-centered and highly interactive educational approach focused on learning through experience, with knowledgeable and committed educators who use group process and a "curriculum" of Jewish ideas and values to create a holistic educational culture.

Some of the eight characteristics are common to both general and Jewish informal education.

Descriptions of informal educational programs abound, but efforts to confront informal Jewish education on an abstract and conceptual level are rare.

That is our task in this monograph: to define and analyze the concept.

(5) There is little doubt of the link between a strong commitment to education and perpetuation of Jewish literacy, lifestyle, and peoplehood.

However, schools were not the only contexts in which Jewish education took place.

The network of camps, youth movements, and community centers is sizable.

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