• A Note from Dean Barry Holtz
• New Educational Leadership Concentration
• Kesher Hadash
• Reflecting on Visions and Voices of Israel Seminar
• iCenter Fellows Announced
• News from Our Project Directors
• Recent Events
• Faculty Notes
• Student News
• Alumni News
• William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education Team
Alumni: Fill out our alumni contact form to receive additional information about The Davidson School and special alumni-only programs.
There is an old line that has a good deal of wisdom: "Any way will get you there, if you don't know where you are going!" In other words, not having a direction, not having a sense of where one is headed, means that everything one does is haphazard, without a plan and without a deep purpose. Where you end up doesn't matter, because your goals are unclear. In the world of education, this problem is most commonly known as "an absence of vision." As my teacher Professor Seymour Fox (z"l) used to say, without a sense of purpose, without a clear vision of why you are doing what you are doing, you have no criteria for deciding what your activities should be—and, perhaps even more importantly, you have no grounds for deciding what you don't want to do. No idea is better than any other if you are unclear about your sense of purpose.
These ideas about purpose are particularly relevant to us at the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education at this moment in our history. Thanks to the enormous generosity and ongoing support of William Davidson (z"l) and his family, The Davidson School was launched some 18 years ago. We have graduated scores of students and published curriculum materials used in congregational schools and day schools. Our faculty has produced important research that has enhanced and advanced the field of Jewish education. Thanks to the confidence expressed by individual supporters and foundations such as the Jim Joseph Foundation, the AVI CHAI Foundation, the Covenant Foundation, and UJA-Federation of New York, we have worked with teachers and educational leaders in our many grant-supported projects in a variety of educational settings and geographical locations. The record of accomplishment over almost two decades of work is something of which we can rightly be proud. But even the most successful institutions need to take the time to reflect upon what has been done, and to consider the "vision" of the future most appropriate to the changing needs of Jewish education in our time. How should we be adapting to the situation of Jews today? What new resources can be employed in the work of Jewish education? What new challenges need we face? Just to give the most obvious example, when The Davidson School began, the Internet was in its infancy. There were no "laptop schools." There were no tablets, smartphones, webinars, or iTunes U—and technology is only one part of the picture. The whole field of Israel education, for example, was different from what we see today—there was no Birthright Israel, to pick the most striking change. The organized Jewish community was still reeling from the intermarriage statistics found in the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey, and the very structures of communal educational institutions were in the process of being reshaped and reconsidered.
With all these changes in the external world, there have been many changes within The Davidson School and The Jewish Theological Seminary itself. Faculty members have retired, and new ones have joined The Davidson School's team. JTS saw the retirement of Dr. Ismar Schorsch from its chancellorship, and the appointment of Dr. Arnold Eisen. At that particular moment in time, we were extraordinarily fortunate to have been approached by one of our greatest supporters, the AVI CHAI Foundation, with a powerful suggestion. AVI CHAI, as is well known, is responsible for the core backing of three major programs of The Davidson School. One is DSLTI, the Day School Leadership Training Institute, an intensive in-service program aimed at equipping "middle management" at Jewish day schools for top leadership positions. The second is the Jewish Day School Standards and Benchmarks Project, which has carefully designed a set of standards for day schools to measure their achievement and focus their pedagogy in the area of Bible teaching. These written standards proved to be a jumping-off point for serious professional development work with teachers and instructional leaders in schools that are using the standards approach. Finally, AVI CHAI has funded our summer Ivriyon, a Hebrew-immersion experience for day-school teachers who wish to improve their fluency, their knowledge of classroom Hebrew, and their understanding of language-learning pedagogy.
Because of its commitment to our work, the AVI CHAI Foundation proposed making it possible for The Davidson School to engage in a serious, professional strategic-planning process to help determine our goals and priorities for the next stage of the Davidson School's existence. With AVI CHAI's encouragement and financial support, we began a search to choose the right kind of outside consultant to lead this planning process. We interviewed a number of excellent consultants with expertise in issues related to higher education. In the end, we were fortunate to find two consultants who are working with us in tandem, Abigail Callahan Consulting and Eduventures Consulting, both based in the Boston area. Abigail Callahan is the main point person for the process, but other individuals with specific areas of expertise will also be helping in the effort. Dr. Zachary Lasker, the newest hire at The Davidson School, will be the contact person organizing the entire effort on the JTS side. The consultants are interviewing a variety of individuals both from within and outside JTS—faculty members, students, alumni, donors, board members, experts in the field of education and Jewish education, and of course, the senior administration of The Davidson School and JTS. In addition, research about contemporary Jewish education and general education will help focus the discussion.
We expect to conclude the work by the end of June, with a set of goals outlined for the next phase of life of The Davidson School. At that point, we will map out the practical stages for the plan's implementation. The Davidson School of the future will certainly have much in common with what we have done since 1994. There is no doubt that the core values of The Davidson School will continue to motivate our work, namely, a commitment to the centrality of Jewish content knowledge, a focus on the wisdom that can be learned from the best of educational practices, and programs that care deeply about mentoring and supervision. Where these values take us and what new ideas and initiatives The Davidson School undertakes will be the exciting outcome of this important process of reflection and planning.
The Educational Leadership Concentration, restructured in September 2011, is directed by Dr. Sarah Tauber and doctoral student Sara Shapiro-Plevan. The new program prepares Davidson School students to become outstanding educational leaders who will serve a changing American Jewish community in the 21st century. We cultivate thinkers and doers who will shape the emerging vision of a dynamic Judaism in the contemporary United States. Students in the Educational Leadership Concentration make the transition from expert learners to novice professionals in a collegial setting that supports the development of relationships, exposes them to practice in the field through internships, and provides mentoring with outstanding practitioners. This concentration builds a vibrant community of practice that supports individual and collective growth, and creates an emerging cadre of reflective Jewish educational leaders.
The semester-in-Israel program, Kesher Hadash (New Connections), is in full swing. The students are deeply immersed in their studies, dedicated to the academic, linguistic, and experiential components of the program. Students study Hebrew in intensive fashion, take courses in Israeli History and Israel Education, and explore the rich complexities of Israeli society from the inside. They spend much of their time in partnership with Israeli peers and colleagues, engaging with the big questions of Israel, Jewish Education, and Israel Education.
One of the greatest challenges to contemporary world Jewry is the question of the place of Israel in Diaspora Jewish identity. The Davidson School recognizes that, in order for students to truly grapple with the complex issues at the heart of this matter, Israel and Zionism must be a central component in students' experiences throughout the MA program. To that end, every first-year, full-time Davidson School student is required to spend a portion of the winter semester break in Israel. During the Visions and Voices of Israel Seminar, our students deal with the questions about Israel with which every contemporary Jewish educator must engage.
"The part of Visions and Voices that impacted me the most was the chance to interact with Israelis. Although I have traveled to Israel on organized trips multiple times, I have never had this sort of experience. Being able to speak with Israelis gave a completely different feel to that section of the seminar. I found that I took many parts of my life for granted. I also found that I was overgeneralizing when I referred to Orthodox Judaism in Israel. While these assumptions might seem to be minor, they have major implications for my training as a Jewish educator." —Matt Nover (DS '14)
Visions and Voices of Israel Seminar students
The Davidson School and the iCenter, a Chicago-based organization dedicated to Israel Education, are pleased to announce the second cohort of Davidson School students participating in the iCenter's Master's Concentration Program in Israel Education.
The program is fully funded by the iCenter, and will be run in collaboration with five other MA programs: the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University; the Jewish Professional Leadership programs at New York University; the MA programs of the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education at Yeshiva University; the Rhea Hirsch School of Jewish Education at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion; and the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University.
Three Davidson School students have been accepted to participate in this wonderful opportunity, and we congratulate them: Ilene Bloom (DS '12), Andrea LeVine (DS '12), and Matthew Nover (DS '14). These students applied to the program and were approved by the iCenter Israel Education Master's Concentration committee.
The Davidson School's Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI) recently launched the Jewish Experiential Leadership Institute (JELI), a professional development program for educational leaders involved in Jewish experiential education. JELI, a component of The Davidson School's Jim Joseph Foundation grant that was developed in partnership with JCC Association, is training 20 mid- and senior-level professionals working in Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) throughout the country. Fellows will learn to apply Jewish frameworks—including values, ethics, texts, and traditions—to setting vision, day-to-day management, and developing their own leadership identity. JELI's primary goal is to enhance the personal growth, Jewish leadership abilities, and professional skill sets of talented emerging leaders working in settings that nurture experiential Jewish education programs.
"We are thrilled to be partnering with the JCC Association," said Mark S. Young, program coordinator of the Experiential Learning Initiative at The Davidson School. "Our charge is to train more and better educators that foster the growth and success of Jewish experiential education programs and settings, and this institute is an innovative approach to do just that!" Fellows will be taught by JTS faculty, including Dr. Jeffrey Kress, assistant professor and chair of the Department of Jewish Education; JCC Association educators; and outside educators—including the program's lead educator, Simon Klarfeld, the executive director of Young Judaea and former executive director of Columbia/Barnard Hillel.
Fellows will study through monthly online webinars and three in-person learning sessions, applying their understanding to designing and implementing an independent learning project at their home JCC. Fellows will also work with program mentors, senior Jewish educational leaders who will meet one-on-one with fellows to identify individual areas of professional growth and guide them throughout the 15-month program.
The Davidson School will facilitate its 10th annual Career Workshop for graduating students, preparing them for the job-search process and providing essential skills for their ongoing career development as Jewish educators. Facilitated by Cheryl Magen and Mark S. Young, the 20 students who attended the 2012 workshop or corresponding Lunch & Learns reflected with excitement on their experience. One attendee remarked,
"Attending the career workshop was a crucial and important step in beginning my journey as professional educator. It provided me with clear direction and manageable steps to help conquer what seems like an intimidating and daunting process. Throughout the entire experience it was exceptionally clear that The Davidson School wants each of us to individually succeed and will constantly and personally be there for us through each step of our careers, even long after the workshop and our Davidson education are finished." —Alana Tilman (DS '12)
The Davidson School engaged with program coordinators involved in experiential education training programs at Yeshiva University (YU) and Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) to share ideas and learn from each other in support of our respective programs throughout the past year. In January 2012, Mark S. Young joined YU and HUC-JIR coordinators to present together at the North American Day School Conference and Limmud NY. Promoting the use and growth of experiential Jewish education, and presenting each institution's respective programs to the field, the team demonstrated a commitment to work together in supporting the growing field of experiential Jewish education.
We are delighted to welcome Lyndall Miller, the director of the Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute (JECELI), a new program being developed collaboratively by The Jewish Theological Seminary and HUC-JIR, in cooperation with the Bank Street College of Education. This innovative program is funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation. Ms. Miller brings to this position 38 years of experience working in education, 30 of which have been in Jewish early childhood education. Prior to her appointment at The Davidson School, Ms. Miller created an online certificate program in Jewish early childhood education and a leadership certificate for directors while at Gratz College, and has led the Legacy Heritage Institute for Jewish Early Childhood Educators. Ms. Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Day School Leadership Training Institute (DSLTI) Alumni Retreat took place in West Palm Beach, Florida, from December 11 to 13, 2011. The 40 participants enjoyed networking, learning together, and utilizing social networks to connect with each other and their colleagues. The theme of the retreat was "Supervision and Evaluation for Professional Growth."
Dr. John D'Auria, president of Teachers21, was the consultant who facilitated many of the sessions. He is the author of Ten Lessons in Leadership and Learning and The DNA of Leadership, and is an instructor at the Harvard Principals' Center. His sessions dealt with beliefs about learning that influence instruction, how to manage difficult conversations, supervision for growth, and how to have engaging meetings and effective teams. Rabbi Marc Baker (DSLTI Cohort 4) and Dr. Susie Tanchel (Cohort 7) shared how they professionalized their faculty at Gann Academy by using instructional rounds. Dean Barry Holtz treated the group to an engaging beit midrash session, and Rabbi Josh Elkin shared his favorite theories of leadership and his vision of the "leadership athlete."
One participant summed up his experience, "The facilitators were fantastic and the retreat had a great balance of theory and practice. I am leaving with renewed vitality and a host of great ideas to implement."
Dr. Evie Rotstein (HUC-JIR) colead a seminar for fellows of The Leadership Institute: Shaping Congregational Leaders and Learners (LI; formerly known as the Leadership Institute of Congregational School Educators [LICSE]), a joint program of The Davidson School and HUC-JIR. The title of our seminar, which took place from February 9 to 19, 2012, was "Change in Challenging Times: Leaders Respond Creatively." It explored both the institution and the individuals who are leading educational and cultural change in Israel. The Leadership Institute partnered with Oranim Academic College of Education's Department of Jewish Peoplehood, directed by Roberta Bell-Kligler, to plan the seminar. Oranim College is one of Israel's most well-known and respected colleges for education and teaching.
One highlight of our seminar was an international conference at Oranim College titled "Changing the Mindscape and Landscape of Jewish Peoplehood: New Paradigms for Educational Leaders." Fellows had the wonderful opportunity to meet and learn with Israel educators from the region, and introduced them to a "protocol" structure used by educators at The Leadership Institute this past summer. The conversation focused on dilemmas that both Israelis and Americans face in regard to effective educational leadership and Jewish peoplehood.
The seminar was a huge success. It left the educators with many new questions and ideas around Israel education and peoplehood.
Dr. Shira Epstein, now the JTS faculty advisor to the new Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute (JECELI), copresented on March 11 at "What to Wear: Women, Clothing, Religion." She facilitated a special lunch for teens only, and a session that immediately followed entitled "OMG—I Can't Believe She Wore That!"
Dr. Shira Epstein and Dr. Jeffrey Kress coauthored a piece in the Winter 2011 issue of HaYidion, a publication of RAVSAK (The Jewish Community Day School Network) titled "Not Just Fun and Games: Preparing for Meaningful, Constructivist, Experiential Education."
Dr. Carol Ingall, the recently retired Dr. Bernard Heller Professor of Jewish Education, has had two book reviews published in the Journal of Jewish Education. In volume 77, number 4, 2011, she was one of four authors asked to review the International Journal of Jewish Education. In volume 78, number 1, 2012, she reviewed Jonathan Krasner's latest book, The Benderly Boys and American Jewish Education.
Dr. Jeffrey Kress facilitated a workshop in January at the Bergen County Y, a JCC in the Township of Washington, New Jersey, titled "Promoting Holistic Jewish Growth: Beyond Formal/Informal Education."
Dr. Jeffrey Kress and Mark Young coauthored an article appearing in the online supplement to the Journal of Jewish Communal Service, titled "Preparing Service-Learning Professionals: Lessons from Training Experiential Educators."
Emily Cook (DS '13) has been selected to serve as principal of the Kellman Brown Academy in Cherry Hill, Pennsylvania.
Marian Gorman (DS '02) is excited to report that her daughter-in-law, Rabbi Jennifer Gorman (RS '02), led the first egalitarian minyan ever held in the Knesset.
Micah Liben (RS '11 and DS '11) and his wife welcomed their second son, Lev Binyamin, on February 13, 2012.
Dr. Deborah Miller and her husband, Rabbi Clifford B. Miller, celebrated with their family as their grandson Ezekiel Akiba Timen became a bar mitzvah on January 7, 2012.
Sara Stave (DS '04) was selected "Teacher of the Month" by the director of the Bonayich Rabbinics curriculum. She was featured on their website.
Karen Stein (DS '98) and her family welcomed their second son, Jonah Eliav, on April 24. His big brother, Avi Benjamin, will be 4 on March 1. Karen is still at USCJ, where she has been since graduating from The Davidson School.
Rabbi Jeremy Sara Yoskowitz (RS and DS '08) is engaged to be married to Dr. Lisa Cohen. Rabbi Yoskowitz is the campus rabbi and assistant director of Jewish Life at Duke University. Dr. Cohen, a graduate of Yale University and the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, is board certified in Nephrology and Internal Medicine, and is a nephrologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Hadar Dohn (DSLTI Cohort 6) has been appointed head of school at the Hebrew Day School of Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Noah Hartman (Cohort 6) has been appointed to the headship of Cohen Hillel Academy in Marblehead, Massachusetts.
Rabbi Ari Leubitz (Cohort 7) has been appointed head of school for the Oakland Hebrew Day School in Oakland, California.
Rabbi Yehuda Potok (Cohort 6) has been appointed head of school at the Striar Hebrew Academy in Sharon, Massachusetts.
Bil Zarch (Cohort 6) has been appointed head of school at Krieger Schechter Day School in Baltimore, Maryland.
Meryl Holtz (z"l), the mother of Dr. Barry Holtz, passed away on April 2 in Florida. The Davidson School community sends our condolences to Dr. Holtz and his family.
Dr. Barry W. Holtz
Dr. Ofra A. Backenroth
Dr. Aryeh Davidson
Dr. Shira D. Epstein
Dr. Meredith Katz
Dr. Jeffrey S. Kress
Dr. Sarah Tauber
Project Director, Jewish Day School Standards and Benchmarks Project
Administrative Assistant, Melton Research Center for Jewish Education
Admissions Director, The Graduate School and The Davidson School
Administrative Assistant, The Davidson School
Project Director, MaToK Project
Coordinator, Etgar and Etgar Yesodi
Dr. Zachary Lasker
Director, Melton Research Center Educational Projects
Rabbi Jonathan Lipnick
Educational Consultant to National Ramah
Administrative Assistant, Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies and The Davidson School
Dr. Deborah U. Miller
Associate Director, Melton Research Center
Project Director, Jim Joseph Foundation Grant
Director, Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute
Administrative Assistant, Melton Research Center
Dr. Evie Rotstein
Project Director, The Leadership Institute: Shaping Congregational Leaders and Learners
Research Assistant, Experiential Learning Initiative
Director, Day School Leadership Training Institute
Mark S. Young
Program Coordinator, Experiential Learning Initiative
The Davidson School wants to continue to connect with you and act on our commitment to the environment by sending you this newsletter via email.
Participate in the
Ivriyon Hebrew-Immersion Program for Day-School Teachers
of all affiliations
July 2–26, 2012
The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City
Tuition is free. Partial board is provided to all participants. Out-of-towners receive free accommodation.
William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education and the Department of Hebrew Language at JTS are offering a unique opportunity in the summer of 2012 for 15 qualified day-school teachers to enter a Hebrew-immersion program geared for teaching Judaic studies (Limudei Kodesh) in grades K–12.
By participating in Ivriyon you will learn to:
• Create a Hebrew environment in your classroom
• Lead discussions in Hebrew with your students
• Write grammatically correct exercises and instructions
• Help students articulate ideas and feelings in Hebrew
• Develop your own classroom project entirely in Hebrew
This program is partially subsidized by a grant from the AVI CHAI Foundation.