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The MA in Jewish Experiential Education
These are exciting times at the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education, thanks in particular to an extraordinary grant of almost $15 million over the next five years from the Jim Joseph Foundation. The Foundation declares its goal is "to increase the number and enhance the quality of Jewish educators working with Jewish youth and young adults." In order to realize that aspiration, it gave similar grants to Yeshiva University and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Through these grants, each seminary is able to offer significantly increased financial aid and to launch new degree and certificate programs for education students and educators. While each institution will address its own needs and work toward its own goals, the grant also allows the opportunity for significant collaboration among the three seminaries, as we share in the enterprise of advancing Jewish education in North America.
One of the new programs that we will be offering at JTS is the MA in Jewish Experiential Education, which will welcome its first cohort in the fall 2011 semester. The Davidson School will also be collaborating with various Jewish organizations to offer shorter-term, intensive certification programs for experiential educators. Professor Jeff Kress, associate professor of Jewish Education and chair of the Department of Jewish Education, will serve as the initiative's academic director. Mark S. Young, who has held leadership and educational positions in various Jewish experiential settings, was recently hired as the initiative's program coordinator.
The initiative stems from the blossoming of educational approaches that focus on cultivating inspiring and rich Jewish experiences. Camps, Hillels, Israel programs, and nonprofit Jewish education organizations are seeking excellent, knowledgeable professionals. Day and supplemental schools are embracing experiential educational methods including retreats, Shabbatonim, and social action initiatives. The demand for more and better-trained experiential professional continues to grow. Jewish educators will now be able to find the training they need at The Davidson School.
All students accepted to the MA program in Jewish Experiential Education will receive two years of free tuition and a generous stipend. With this new program will come several key innovations. In order to promote professional identity, students will work together as a cohort from the time they enter. Students (who will apply specifically to the program and will be interviewed) will engage in targeted course work addressing the educational and leadership development needs essential for experiential educators. Further, students will participate in both a first-year integrative seminar and second-year intensive field placement. These experiences will expose students to cutting-edge Jewish educational organizations and provide opportunities for networking with, and mentoring by, leaders in the field. Finally, Experiential Education MA students will be part of a close-knit community participating in retreats, seminars, and events that provide additional opportunities for learning, networking, and reflection.
As we move forward with our new initiatives made possible by the Jim Joseph Foundation grant, we will continue to update our readers of these inspiring opportunities. If you know of candidates who might be interested in applying, please have them contact Abby Eisenberg, director of admissions for The Davidson School, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Dr. Barry W. Holtz, dean of the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education, JTS
Jessica Braginsky received her BA in Political Science from Union College, graduating cum laude. She was admitted to the Bars of the State of New York and the U.S. district courts in both the Eastern and Southern Districts, and is currently the religious school director of the Port Jewish Center in Port Washington, New York.
Hilary Brown received her BA from List /Columbia University. At both schools she made the dean's list, and was in addition also a List College Fellow. In 2005, she attended the Nativ College Leadership Program at Hebrew University in Israel.
Jason Cathcart holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Strayer University. He is currently director of education and youth services at B'nai Zion Congregation in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He has previously served on the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism National Board of Directors, and was president and treasurer of the Jewish Youth Directors Association.
Daniel Cohen obtained a bachelor's degree in History with a minor in education from SUNY Buffalo, where he graduated cum laude.
Heather Fiedler graduated from Syracuse University where she majored in Religion. In 2006, she received the Grinspoon-Steinhardt Award for Excellence in Jewish Education. She was selected to attend the first Ziv Tzedakah Fund Educators' Mitzvah Hero Tour of Israel.
David Jaffe graduated summa cum laude from the State University of New York at Albany with a BA in Judaic Studies. He served in the Educational Division of the Israeli Defense Forces from 2000 to 2002.
Naomi Kachel graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor's in Applied Learning and Development and a minor in Hebrew. She received a generalist certification in early childhood to fourth grade education.
Abigail Kerbel received her BA from Barnard College in Middle Eastern Studies, as well as a BA in Jewish History from List College.
Jacob Komisar obtained his BA in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He went on to receive an MA in International Affairs with an emphasis on international peace and conflict resolution from the School of International Service at the American University. Jacob was ordained in 2009 after studying at Yeshivat Mayanot, Yeshivat Hesder Tekoa, and the Steinsaltz Center, where he was a member of the higher kollel. He works with Steinsaltz on translating the Talmud to English.
Treebyleaf McCurdy received her bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Washington.
Rebecca Platt graduated from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in Religious Studies and Art History. She was inducted into Theta Alpha Kappa, the national religious studies honor society.
Amy Rosenbaum earned her PhD in Religion Studies from Northwestern University, and wrote a dissertation titled Uncommon Ground: Using Martin Buber's Philosophy of Dialogue to Set the Parameters for Jewish-Christian Dialogues. In her senior year, Amy was awarded the Elie Wiesel Writing Prize in Ethics. She was also named a teaching assistant fellow by the Searle Center for Teaching Excellence.
Ariel Scheer attended George Washington University, where she majored in Judaic Studies and minored in Organizational Sciences. She served on the board of the college Hillel and was president of the Hebrew Honor Society, philanthropy chair for Sigma Kappa sorority, and president of the Student Alliance for Israel.
Alana Tilman graduated from Brandeis University, where she majored in Psychology and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, with a minor in Hebrew Language and Literature. Alana was the president of Eta Beta Rho, the national Hebrew honor society.
Gila Hadani Ward received her bachelor of science from the University of Florida and her juris doctor from that university's College of Law. She was admitted to the Florida Bar and worked as editor-in-chief of the University of Florida's International Law Journal.
Glenn Wechsler received both his BA in Judaic Studies and his master's in social work from SUNY Buffalo. In 1993 he was a juris doctor in SUNY Buffalo's School of Law, and currently works as youth director and camp director at the JCC of Staten Island.
Nina Yeske attended the University of Georgia where she received her bachelor's degree in Education.
Dori Ann Wolgel received her bachelor's degree in Anthropology from Vassar College, and studied advanced Hebrew at both Brandeis University and at JTS's Ivriyon.
Mark S. Young is the new program coordinator for the Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI), which has been generously funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation. Below, he discusses his past experiences and how he was drawn to the position, as well as his hopes for the future.
I am thrilled to join the team at JTS and The Davidson Schoool as the coordinator of our exciting new Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI), funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation.
I remember my first summer (of fourteen!) at Camp Wise, the JCC Resident Camp outside Cleveland, Ohio. My unit was leading Shabbat morning services and I volunteered to help. I was ten. I had never lead anything before, much less a service. I was not very confident in my Hebrew skills or even personally invested in tefillah. The Judaics director and songleader encouraged me to chant part of the 'Amidah in front of the entire camp. I was reluctant but I practiced, and on that morning I led without a mistake, receiving a "good job" cheer from my counselor and friends.
That experience and the hundreds that followed-at camp, in USY, on my teen trip to Israel and in various engaging Jewish educational settings-gave me the confidence and motivation to become more involved in Jewish life and engaged in Jewish learning. In short, experiential learning was the hook; it kept me in and inspired me to seek a career in the Jewish professional world.
When I was older I returned to Camp Wise as songleader and Judaics director, providing campers and staff with experiential learning opportunities to increase their own knowledge and love of Judaism, often with the help of my guitar. While in graduate school at NYU, I directed a volunteer program for young adults at the 92nd Street Y. In this role, I developed learning opportunities through community service and social events centered on the core values of social action and tikkun 'olam. Most recently, I designed and facilitated management trainings at Episcopal Social Services, enhancing the supervisory skill sets of the agency's managers and directors.
Having worked both within and outside the Jewish world, I have found that experiential learning has a real power and resonance. Educators can harness this for youth, teens, and adults in a variety of settings to strengthen learning and connection to the material. I hope to utilize all my past learning and professional experiences to ensure that ELI will enhance both the quantity and quality of Jewish educators who incorporate experiential learning tools and techniques across the Jewish educational landscape. These educators have the ability to inspire future generations to lead their lives Jewishly, sharing in the strong traditions of Torah, avodah, and gemilut hasadim.
There has already been considerable planning and preparation for this innovative endeavor, and I am eager to help bring ELI to fruition. I look forward to working with JTS faculty, staff, mentors, and students, as well as the larger Jewish community, as we work together to make ELI a resounding success for The Davidson School and the entire field of Jewish education.
Dean Barry Holtz, The Davidson School Advisory Board, faculty, and staff acknowledge with gratitude the extraordinary support provided for student scholarships in 2010, including the establishment of the Dr. Carol K. Ingall Scholarship Fund. We offer heartfelt thanks to all those donors who earmark their generous contributions to help train tomorrow's education leaders for the Jewish world.
For more information about scholarship donations or establishing a fund, please contact Joan Goodman, national director of Major Gifts, at (212) 678-8849 or email@example.com.
Bill Berman—Ilene Bloom received the award for excellence / special education. Graduating spring 2012.
Botwinick Foundation (Elaine Wolfensohn)—Ariel Scheer and Jacob Komisar received this award, which is given to students based on criteria of pluralism. Graduating spring 2013.
Carol Ingall—Sara Ossey obtained this award for excellence. Graduating spring 2012.
Dimston—Hilary Brown was presented with this award. Graduating spring 2012.
Grinspoon Davidson Scholarship—Jennifer Stern received this scholarship for her work in the Pioneer Valley. Graduating spring 2011.
Miriam Ostow Fellowship—Abby Kerbel was awarded this fellowship, which is given to one Davidson student in the day school track with a high level of Hebrew proficiency. Graduating spring 2011.
Steve Brown Fellowship—Amy Rosenbaum was presented with this fellowship for excellence. Graduating spring 2013.
Dr. Ofra Backenroth, associate dean, recently hosted a workshop for all ages titled "Weaving the Arts into Text Study," which centered on the question of how the arts can make Jewish texts come alive for our students. The workshop explored the merits of teaching through and with the arts-including dance, movement, music, and other artistic mediums. Participants created art based on a biblical text and explored practical strategies to integrate the arts in the study of Siddur and Bible. The workshop took place on November 7.
|Dr. Shira Epstein, assistant professor of Jewish Education, recently welcomed her son, Gabriel Aidan, to the world.|
Dr. Carol K. Ingall, Dr. Bernard Heller Professor of Jewish Education, taught at the Jewish Educators Assembly Convocation in November 2010 on the topic of "Pink Collar Revolution: The Women Who Hebraized and Zionized American Jewry." She also will be participating in L'Shem Shamayim: Great Educational Debates in Jewish Education, an upcoming series for educational leaders in Cleveland convened by the Siegal College of Jewish Education. Her session, entitled "The Women Who Revolutionized Jewish Education: Issues They Saw That We See More Dimly," took place on December 3.
Dr. Jeffrey Kress associate professor of Jewish Education, presented his paper, "Pluralism Three Ways: Jewish High Schools, Diversity, and Community," at the Network for Research in Jewish Education Conference in New York in June 2010. His book with Mitch Cohen, Ramah at 60: Impact and Innovation, was released this summer. He also published "Reflection and Connections: The Other Side of Integration" in the Journal of Jewish Education.
Join the JTS Alumni Group on Facebook and connect with fellow alumni from the five schools at JTS.
Bess Adler (MA '06) recently became the new principal of the Bergen County High School of Jewish Studies. On June 3, 2010, she welcomed her baby Naomi Bracha Adler to the world, the littlest sister to Shai, Nadav, and Yael.
Rabbi Eliav Bock (RS, MA '09) and his wife Dina Danon are pleased to announce the birth of their first son, Matan Danon Bock. Rabbi Bock recently completed his first summer as founding director of Ramah Outdoor Adventure, Ramah's first specialty camp, located in the Colorado Rockies.
Tehilah Eisenstadt (MA '07) is currently in her second year as the religious school, youth and family education director at Huntington Jewish Center (HJC), where she works with synagogue staff members, volunteers, and religious school and youth faculty. In this position, she is bringing the knowledge and experience she gained at JTS—as well as her behind-the-scenes learning at the JCC of Manhattan, The Covenant Foundation, Storahtelling, and various other New York-based religious school programs—to HJC's faculty and community. She does strategic planning and professional development for staff, and works with various programs.
Rabbi Helene Kornsgold (MA '06) became the religious school director at Temple Ramat Zion, in Northridge, California.
Dani Gray Luft (MA '04) and Ryan Luft welcomed their second daughter, Mira Devorah Luft, to the world on March 20, 2010.
Kate O'Brien (MA '07) was lead author on the article, "Driving Congregational School Change to Enhance 21st Century Jewish Learning," written with Jonathan Woocher, PhD., and Leora Isaacs, PhD, which is expected to appear in the forthcoming issue of The Journal of Jewish Education. She recently celebrated her marriage to her partner of over six years on October 10, 2010, in Kent Falls, Connecticut.
Davey Rosen (MA, '08) is delighted to announce his recent engagement to Jillian Constantine; the couple plan to marry in September 2011. Davey is assistant director of Camp Ramah in New England and Jillian is a works graduate student at Brandeis University. The couple first met while on staff at Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake.
Julie Wohl (DS '05) and Lauren Kurland (DS/RS '05) are thrilled to announce the publication of Siddur Mah Tov, an illustrated Shabbat morning prayer book for families with children ages four to seven, published by Behrman House. Lauren recently began work at the American Jewish World Service. Julie and her husband, Rabbi Josh Wohl (DS/RS '09), recently welcomed their second son, Micah Aaron, into the world in March.
Rabbi Jeremy Yoskowitz (RS/DS '08) made the move to Durham, North Carolina, after accepting the position of campus rabbi and assistant director for Jewish life at Duke University. As campus rabbi, he is also as the Jewish chaplain for the university, and serves as an authority on questions of Jewish religious life and practice. He works closely with over 20 other clergy members from multifaith backgrounds and traditions in religious life and on the faith council in order to foster an open and pluralistic environment for both the campus and the community at large.
Dr. Barry W. Holtz
Dr. Ofra A. Backenroth
Dr. Aryeh Davidson
Dr. Shira D. Epstein
Dr. Michael B. Greenbaum
Dr. Carol K. Ingall
Dr. Jeffrey S. Kress
Dr. Michelle Lynn-Sachs
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