Allison Gutman

William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education

Southfield, Michigan
JTS Degree Program: Master of Arts, Jewish Education, Educational Leadership in Synagogues and Communal Settings Concentration, 2011

Current Position: Assistant Director of Education and Youth at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield, Michigan

What were you doing in the two or three years before you began your studies at JTS? I completed my undergraduate degree in Comparative Religion at Western Michigan University, and studied Hebrew at the University of Haifa. I also taught in several religious schools, and was the Israel education director of JCC of Chicago's Camp Chi.

Why did you choose to attend The Davidson School? The Davidson School presented a unique opportunity to study Jewish education at a pluralistic school, and I knew I wanted to learn about the most innovative models of Jewish learning from a highly accomplished and expert faculty.  

Who is the JTS professor or mentor that was formative for you? Please share an anecdote or insight. It's hard to pick just one professor. Dr. Carol Ingall is such a wonderful educator. She really helped each of us grow personally and academically. Throughout my time at The Davidson School, Dr. Ingall was invested in my future success, and helped to direct me professionally.

How did your Davidson School education help prepare you for the work you now do? The Davidson School introduced me to the major educational theorists and really helped me craft my own personal philosophy of education. After exploring thought on Jewish learning and establishing my own education philosophy, I was prepared to pick an organization with which to share a mission and vision. The Davidson School also places senior students in a yearlong practicum that gives them opportunities to apply theories and techniques in a real-world setting. My practicum placement and mentor were a highlight of my Davidson School experience.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time at JTS? Hands down, my favorite time at JTS was always Sukkot. There is simply nothing quite like the entire community-students, faculty, and staff-joining together to celebrate our tradition, delicious food, and fall in New York City. It's unlike any other experience.

Why should a prospective student consider The Davidson School and JTS?

The Davidson School offers many wonderful opportunities. The professors are absolute experts in their fields, your peers come from a range of fields and professions, and you get to enjoy the Jewish and cultural experience of a very special institution in a very special city. The JTS administration is also deeply committed to supporting students and graduates, and fostering long-term success.

How is JTS a part of your life today? JTS is still very much a part of my life. Congregation Shaarey Zedek is a participant in ReFrame, an initiative of The Davidson School and JTS that explores how to bring experiential education into the congregational setting. I am one of the educators involved in the project, and I get to see research produced by JTS faculty. I also have the opportunity to learn and work with JTS professors. Dr. Meredith Katz was one of my professors at The Davidson School; three years later, she is one of our ReFrame project consultants. It's wonderful to work with her in a professional capacity.