Melton Research Center for Jewish Education
Meet Our Team
Dr. Barry Holtz, dean, William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education; Theodore and Florence Baumritter Professor of Jewish Education; director, Melton Research Center for Jewish Education, (212) 678-8030
Dr. Barry Holtz oversees all components of The Davidson School, including both the academic programs and the field services. As a professor, he leads courses in teaching classical texts, professional development for teachers, philosophy of Jewish education, and current issues confronting Jewish education. Dr. Holtz has written and edited numerous publications in the field of Jewish Education, such as Textual Knowledge: Teaching the Bible in Theory and in Practice (JTS Press, 2003; received the National Jewish Book Award for Education, 2004). Dr. Holtz served for 12 years as codirector of the Melton Research Center, where he supervised the writing and publication of several volumes of the Melton Graded Curriculum materials for Jewish schools across North America.
A native of Boston and a graduate of Tufts University, Dr. Holtz received his doctorate from Brandeis University.
Dr. Zachary Lasker, director, Melton Research Center Education Projects, (212) 280-6006
Dr. Lasker served for 10 years as camp director of Camp Ramah in California, a career that was preceded by many summers as a counselor, head of singing, and unit head. He has mentored graduate students as an instructor in the Fingerhut School of Education at the American Jewish University, and taught students in both day and supplemental settings. Prior to his pursuits as an educator, Dr. Lasker worked in nonprofit marketing at Gary Wexler + Associates: Passion Marketing.
Dr. Lasker earned his doctorate in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles. He holds an MA in Education from the American Jewish University and a BA in Sociology and Judaic Studies from the University of California, San Diego. He has published articles in eJewish Philanthropy; in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal and San Diego Jewish Journal; and in the book Ramah at 60. In 2005, he and his family were honored by Adat Ari El in Valley Village, California, for their synagogue leadership.
Dr. Deborah Miller, associate director, Melton Research Center for Jewish Education, (212) 280-6037
In her role at The Jewish Theological Seminary, Dr. Deborah Miller administers the grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation that provides funding for many elements of The Davidson School, while also working on the teams for the Etgar and MaToK curricula. Dr. Miller has taught every grade and age from nursery through adult education, and headed the Solomon Schechter Day School of Raritan Valley in East Brunswick, New Jersey, for 14 years. She also headed congregational schools in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and in Clark and Cranford, New Jersey. She earned her BA at Barnard College and her doctorate and MA in Jewish Education at The Davidson School.
Charlotte Abramson, director, Jewish Day School Standards and Benchmarks Project, (212) 280-6019
Charlotte Abramson has served as the director of the Jewish Day School Standards and Benchmarks Project from its inception in 2003. She has been passionately involved in Tanakh education since beginning her career as a teacher at Hillel Day School of Farmington Hills, Michigan. As a teacher of text, Ms. Abramson was puzzled by the fact that her students, often fine students of Hebrew, were challenged when reading the biblical text in Hebrew. Her research into this phenomenon resulted in her master's thesis in Jewish Education for The Graduate School of JTS on "Teaching Students to Become Independent Readers of the Biblical Text in Hebrew."
Ms. Abramson served as dean of studies at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union, Upper School, for 12 years and principal of its middle school. The Standards and Benchmark project allows her to combine her passion for the teaching of Judaic studies with supporting day schools in their quest for educational excellence. She is currently in the Executive Doctoral Program at The Davidson School, investigating how instructional leadership improves teaching and learning in the day school.
Debbie Kerschner, project manager, Project Etgar and Etgar Yesodi, (212) 678-8030
Debbie Kerschner has a BA in Economics from Brandeis University and an MBA in Marketing from New York University. She was director of marketing at C.F. Hathaway Company and a marketing manager at AlliedSignal. She taught Project Etgar to sixth grade students at Bet Torah in Mount Kisco, New York.
Dr. Evie Levy Rotstein, director, Leadership Institute: Shaping Congregational Leaders and Learners, (212) 824-2248
Dr. Evie Levy Rotstein has been the director of the Leadership Institute: Shaping Congregational Leaders and Learners (LI) since the beginning of the project in 2004. Prior to that, she was a congregational school educator and developed innovative programs for faculty learning, teen mentoring, and parent education. Dr. Levy Rotstein began her career in Jewish education as a camp director for Young Judaea. She holds a BA in French and Hebrew, an MA in Foreign Language Education, and an EdD in Jewish Education from JTS. She is a founding codirector of the Kehillah Partnership, an organization that has been recognized by the Covenant Foundation and the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies' Slingshot for its successes in remaking Jewish community through innovation and resource sharing. Dr. Levy Rotstein is a consultant to congregations in the area of organizational change.
Frances M. Urman, director, Day School Leadership Training Institute, (212) 678-8041
Fran manages all program operations of DSLTI, including planning, marketing, participant selection, logistics, staff and external consultant supervision, and dissemination of project results. Fran held the position of principal at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union in West Orange, New Jersey, from 1999 to 2004. She previously held leadership positions at the Solomon Schechter High School of New York and the Yitzhak Rabin High School in Ottawa, Canada. Additional professional work includes twenty years of teaching experience in the Orthodox, Conservative, and community day schools of Canada and the United States. Fran holds a master's degree in Education from Tufts University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Sir George Williams University in Montreal. She completed the Secondary School Leadership Training Program (precursor to DSLTI) at The Jewish Theological Seminary in 1999 and has studied at the Principal's Center, Harvard University.
Fran is married to Stan Urman and is the proud mother of three grown daughters-Mia Urman Tsur, Dr. Marnina Urman Goldenberg, and Samara Urman Siegel-and two beautiful grandsons, Noam and Ari Tsur.
Galya Greenberg, director, MaToK: Bible Curriculum for Day Schools, (212) 678-8030
Ms. Galya Greenberg is currently a doctoral student in Jewish Educational Leadership at Northeastern University and Hebrew College. Her particular area of interest is the professional development of Jewish day school teachers. She has an extensive background in day school education as both a teacher and administrator, and has supervised MaToK teachers at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Hartford. Ms. Greenberg graduated from Brandeis University with a BA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, and earned an MA in Jewish Education from The Davidson School. She and her husband live in West Hartford, Connecticut.
Lyndall Miller, director, Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute, (212) 280-6005
Lyndall Miller brings to her work at the Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute (JECELI) some 38 years of experience in education, 30 of which have been in Jewish early childhood education. She created an online certificate program in Jewish early childhood education and a leadership certificate for directors for Gratz College in Melrose Park, Pennsylvania, and has led the Legacy Heritage Institute for Jewish Early Childhood Educators.
Mark S. Young, program coordinator, Experiential Learning Initiative, (212) 678-8852
Mark S. Young serves as program coordinator of the Experiential Learning Initiative, a Jim Joseph Foundation–funded program. In this role, he has lead the design and implementation of Davidson's new master's degree program for Jewish Experiential Education and the Jewish Experiential Leadership Institute (JELI), a professional development and career-growth training for students of The Davidson School. Prior to JTS, Mr. Young served in the field of human resources for Episcopal Social Services of New York, a child welfare, education, and adult services nonprofit, and at New York City's 92nd Street Y. He also spent 14 summers at the Mandel Jewish Community Center's Camp Wise Resident Camp in Cleveland, Ohio, serving for several years as song leader, Judaic director, and staff-in-training director.
Mr. Young earned a BS in Psychology and Economics from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and an MPA in Nonprofit Management and MA in Hebrew and Judaic Studies from New York University. He lives in Queens, New York, with his wife Rabbi Mara Young, the assistant rabbi of Woodlands Community Temple in Greenburgh, New York.
Miriam Meir, director, Ivriyon Summer Hebrew Institute for Day School Teachers, (212) 678-8903
Russell Braman, principal, Rebecca and Israel Ivry Prozdor High School, (212) 678-8938
Russell Braman comes to Prozdor with experience in public high schools, supplementary schools, and Jewish summer camp. He is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin (2002) and the American Jewish University in Los Angeles (2009), with a dual-Masters degree in Education and in Nonprofit Management. Russell has worked with high school campers at B'nai B'rith Camp in Oregon, taught high school Spanish at South Houston High School in Texas, and at Sellwood Middle School in Oregon, and served as a religious school teacher at several synagogues. When he is not working, Russell enjoys exploring New York City and watching Texas Longhorn football.
Mara Bernstein, administrative assistant, (212) 280-6018
Mara Bernstein began working at The Jewish Theological Seminary in November 2011, and is happy to be on the teams of the Day School Leadership Training Institute, the Jewish Day School Standards and Benchmarks Project, and other Melton Research Center for Jewish Education programs. Prior to her current position, she served as an educator at the Museum at Eldridge Street, teaching visitors of all ages about the landmark synagogue on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Additionally, she interned in the Education Department at Fraunces Tavern Museum and worked as a resident assistant at New York University (NYU). A native southern Californian, Ms. Berstein graduated from NYU with a BA in History, and minored in Hebrew and Judaic Studies.
Michal Pinto, administrative assistant, (212) 280-6007
Michal Pinto is assistant to the directors of the Melton Research Center for Jewish Education and the Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute. After years of a Schechter education in Long Island, New York, she received her master's degree in Urban Planning from the University of Michigan and her bachelor of science degree from Cornell University in Development Sociology. Prior to working at JTS, Michal was assistant to the mayor of Great Neck, Long Island. In her role there, she was able to work with various notable officials of the Jewish community, including the deputy consulate general of Israel and the mayor of Tiberius. She and her husband enjoy urban hiking and going on adventures with their kitten named Fisher.