The Hadassah Foundation has provided generous support for the creation and implementation of the "Learning to Address the Evaded Curriculum Project," a ground-breaking initiative at The Jewish Theological Seminary that addresses issues that touch the lives of female students but are rarely discussed in Jewish schools.
Dr. Shira D. Epstein, an assistant professor in the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education of JTS, is project manager. The Hadassah Foundation is dedicated to social change for women and girls in Israel and the United States. In the U.S., they support projects that encourage self-confidence, leadership skills, and healthy lifestyle choices among Jewish adolescent girls and young women and provide awareness and training for the influential adults in their lives.
"Learning to Address the Evaded Curriculum” is the first program committed to creating the next generation of emotionally healthy girls by focusing exclusively on shifting Jewish educators from "evasion of” to “engagement with” subject areas, which include healthy relationship building, gender and sexual identity, body image, and eating disorders. It targets current educators in the field and emerging Jewish educators, individuals in the best positions to effect significant, long-term changes in Jewish education, now and in the future.
During the coming year, work will focus on enhancing training and resource materials through the development and integration of a methodology to prepare Jewish educators to address issues during “teachable” moments that arise. The grant will support pilot programming at The Davidson School and its Day School Leadership Training Institute, the Leadership Institute for Congregational School Educators, and for the faculty and staff of the Rebecca and Israel Ivry Prozdor High School at JTS.
At JTS, Dr. Epstein coordinates the day school track, supervising student field work and teaching the year-long Practicum. Her research focuses on issues related to gender and education, and the training of Jewish educators to dialogue with adolescent learners about topics related to healthy relationship building, body image, and sexuality.
Dr. Epstein authored a curriculum for adolescent girls titled Strong Girls, Healthy Relationships: A Conversation on Dating, Friendship, and Self-Esteem (JWI, 2006). She is the cochair of UJA-Federation of New York's Task Force on the Jewish Woman Steering Committee and the representative of youth programs on Jewish Women International’s (JWI's) National Leadership Council. She lectures and conducts trainings with organizations and at conferences such as: Hadassah National convention, Ma’yan, JWI’s Conference on Domestic Abuse in the Jewish Community, and National Council of Jewish Women.
Dr. Epstein has a doctor of education degree in Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University, and was a Wexner Graduate Fellow. She holds a master of arts degree in Educational Theater from New York University and a bachelor of arts degree in Women's Studies, with a concentration in the Education of Girls, from Brown University.
The Evaded Curriculum project is also funded by the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York, the initial supporter of the program, and the Dobkin Family Foundation. Further information is available by contacting Dr. Epstein at (212) 280-6044.