Most of us use the Internet to find things and communicate. Rabbi Paul Steinberg is using the Web to earn a doctorate from JTS while continuing to live in California as one of the first distance-learning students in the new Executive Doctoral Program in the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education.
The Davidson Executive Doctoral Program resembles most online degrees, in that students take classes and submit assignments through the Web. Yet, the program is unusual in that the online work supplements the weekend-long seminars at The Jewish Theological Seminary that occur twice each semester.
Paul's journey to the Executive Doctoral Program began offline, when he met Dean Barry Holtz at the Jewish Educators Assembly Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, in February 2009. After earning his master's degree in Education from American Jewish University and receiving rabbinic ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, Paul was considering doctoral programs in Education or Philosophy. With encouragement from Dr. Holtz, Paul applied and was accepted to the first cohort of the Executive Doctoral Program.
Paul was already familiar with The Davidson School--and the opportunity to study here has already enhanced his connection to the Conservative Movement. "Many of the required texts for a degree in Jewish Education anywhere are works by JTS faculty," Paul says, "and the classes and community of JTS provide a context for Conservative Judaism where I can better understand my place in Jewish history. My education has completed something for me that I felt was lacking."
Since Paul spends little time on campus, he has no chance of growing homesick or wasting much time in travel. And after his boss, Rabbi Edward Feinstein, heard about the Executive Doctoral Program, he applied, too, and was accepted. Paul says his fellow classmates are "like a bumper crop of outstanding Jewish educators and individuals."
The next step for Paul is to begin his dissertation while continuing his work as associate rabbi at Valley Beth Sholom in Encino, California. And though he hasn't yet finished his first year, Paul knows the Executive Doctoral Program is exactly what he wanted. Says Paul, "This is the program I was waiting for my entire life."
Rabbi Paul Steinberg describes the Executive Doctoral Program: