Behind Mercava’s ‘future of Jewish education’ claim, critic sees ‘marketing mumbo jumbo’

Mercava, a new online platform for Jewish learning, is billing itself as the “future of Jewish education.”

Russell Neiss, a Jewish educator and ed-tech gadfly, isn’t buying it. He dismisses Mercava’s rhetoric as “wild claims & marketing mumbo-jumbo.”

Neiss, who has worked in Jewish day schools and is the co-developer of various Jewish educational apps, including PocketTorah, disputes the notion that technology is a panacea for all that ails education. A few months ago, Neiss circulated a 1950s newsreel promoting B.F. Skinner’s “learning machine” as a game-changer to show that such outsized expectations are nothing new.

Now, inspired by the launch of Mercava, Neiss has created a satiric Twitter handle called @iJEdRevolution. Using a “bot” programmed by Neiss, the Twitter account draws from a list of Jewish educational and technology buzzwords and trendy gadgets to automatically generate “revolutionary Jewish ed ideas” every hour.

The resulting tweets are nonsensical, yet amusing — at least for those exposed to their share of jargon. Some recent posts:

Julie Wiener Julie Wiener is a features writer for JTA. Previously, she was the associate editor of The New York Jewish Week, where she wrote about education, food and assorted other topics along with intermarriage.