William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education and The Rabbinical School
Bronx, New York
JTS Degree Programs: Doctor of Education, Jewish Education, 2012; Rabbinic Ordination and Master of Arts, Jewish Studies, 1983
Current Position: Dean and mashgiach ruchani, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, Bronx, New York
What were you doing in the two or three years before you began your studies at JTS? I was faculty and dean of Judaic Studies at the Abraham Joshua Heschel School in New York City from 1983 to 2010. During that time, I received rabbinic ordination and an MA in Jewish Studies from JTS, as well as rabbinic ordination from Yeshivat Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University. From 2010 to 2013, I worked from Jerusalem and was the director of KIVUNIM: New Directions, a post-high school program dedicated to academic and experiential learning of Jewish history and Jewish identity.
Why did you choose to attend The Davidson School? I completed most of my doctoral studies in education at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. My research topic is pedagogy of rabbinic texts, and Dr. Barry Holtz was on my reading committee. After completing my course work at Harvard and my qualifying pilot study, I transferred to The Davidson School to work more closely with the esteemed JTS faculty.
What is your current title, what role(s) do you serve, and where? I am currently the mashgiach ruchani and director of educational training at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT). I will become the dean of YCT in September 2014. I am also on the Talmud faculty of SAR High School in the Bronx.
Who is the JTS professor or mentor that was formative for you? Please share an anecdote or insight. Dr. Barry Holtz and Dr. Aryeh Davidson mentored me most closely, with love and dedication. During the years I was in Israel, they facilitated lengthy telephone meetings in which they both, simultaneously, guided me through the writing of my dissertation. They believed in my research and in me as a Jewish educator, and conveyed their loving support and dedication throughout my process as a student. I taught their children at the Heschel School, and therefore have benefited from them as mentors with whom I have been engaged in educational conversations for decades. Is there any other way to cultivate an apprenticeship as an educator?
How did your Davidson School education help prepare you for the work you now do? Writing the dissertation challenged me and afforded me research skills-thinking clearly, having a sense of method, being able to frame a good question, knowing how to facilitate a process of searching for answers-that I use daily.
Why should a prospective student consider The Davidson School and JTS? A student should consider The Davidson School for the intellectually open and challenging environment, the forward-thinking sensibilities of the faculty, and the great need the Jewish people have for creative, dynamic, knowledgeable educators.