In 1999, the Network for Research in Jewish Education established an award for doctoral students in Jewish education or adjacent fields, designed to support their research and encourage their scholarly contributions to the field. In 2017, NRJE named the Award for our colleague Harold Wechsler z”l (1946-2017), professor of Jewish education and educational history at NYU, who had chaired the Emerging Scholar Award Committee.


The Harold Wechsler Award is intended to provide modest support to the most promising emerging scholars in the field. Doctoral students who have advanced to candidacy are eligible. The Awards Committee intends to distribute a total of $3000 each year to one or more recipients. 


Applicants for the Wechsler Award should be current students in a doctoral program in Jewish Education or adjacent fields (Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology, Philosophy, etc., or in a general Education program), and should have advanced to candidacy (i.e., should have an accepted dissertation proposal) by March 1, 2024. Once students have been awarded their doctorate, they are no longer eligible.

Funds may be used for research-related expenses such as books and publications, travel for scholarly purposes, transcription, research assistance, editorial assistance, clerical assistance, publication assistance, childcare, or equipment purchase. Funds may not be used for general living expenses. (In accordance with IRS regulations, recipients of the Award will be responsible for maintaining their own receipts to substantiate the use of funds in accordance with the permitted purposes, as listed above.) Note that the application does not ask for a detailed budget, nor for documentation of need, to make the application process as simple and straightforward as possible.

Application process

Applications are due March 1, 2024 via email directly to Candice Kiss at, with a Subject line that includes the words “Wechsler Award application.” Applications should include the following three documents combined in one attachment (in PDF, DOC, or RTF). The filename of the attachment should take the form “lastname-firstname-Wechsler-application.”

  1.   A brief cover letter that describes the trajectory of the project, your research progress to date, and the anticipated timeline to completion of the project. The cover letter should also include the name and contact information for one recommender, and explain your relationship to that person. Finally, the cover letter should also include the following affirmation: I understand and affirm that, if I receive funds from the Wechsler Award, I will use those funds for research-related expenses as described on the Wechsler Award website.
  2.   A descriptive essay about your research project (1000 words maximum, not including bibliography). Please write an essay that is accessible to researchers from diverse disciplines and backgrounds. The essay should clearly explain the research question(s), the context for the research (including key points made in relevant literatures), the importance and potential impact of the research question on scholarly discourse and/or Jewish educational practice, the research methodology, and findings to the extent that they are anticipated or available. 
  3. An updated CV.

In addition, please arrange with your recommender to submit a letter of recommendation by March 1, 2024 via email directly to Candice Kiss at,, with a Subject line that includes the words “Wechsler Award recommendation.” The email should include the recommendation as an attachment (in PDF, DOC, or RTF). The filename of the attachment should take the form “applicantlastname-applicantfirstname-Wechsler-recommendation.” 

The Awards Committee will acknowledge receipt of all applications and will request further information if necessary. The Harold Wechsler Award for Emerging Scholars will be announced at the 2024 meeting of the Network for Research in Jewish Education. The recipient(s) will be invited to discuss their research project at the annual conference in June, for which they will receive free registration.

Award criteria

Award-winning projects are ones that are expected to make significant advances in knowledge or in methodology that moves the field of scholarship in Jewish education and/or the field of practice of Jewish education forward. Projects are evaluated for internal coherence (between the research question and the chosen methods), potential impact, engagement with relevant literatures, and overall quality of exposition.

Questions? Read our FAQ’s which can be found here.

More Questions? Reach out to Jon A. Levisohn, Chair of the Awards Committee   Email: levisohn at brandeis dot edu.

Past Award Recipients 

Year Name
2001 Ofra Backenroth (JTS)
2002 Susie Tanchel (Brandeis) and Meredith Katz (TC)
2003 Miriam Heller Stern (Stanford), Ben Jacobs (TC), Barry Kislowicz (TC)
2004 Tracy Kaplowitz (Hebrew University)
2005 Beth Cousens (Brandeis) and Alan Selis (UMD)
2006 Tali Hyman (NYU)
2007 Michael Kay (NYU), Leslie Ginsparg (NYU), and Rebecca Shargel (JTS)
2008 Sivan Kroll-Zeldin Zakai (Stanford) and Zohar Rotem (The New School)
2009 Aliza Segal (Hebrew University)
2010 Orly Denman (NYU)
2011 Rafael Cashman (OISE, U of Toronto)
2012 Frayda Gonshor Cohen (Mills College) and Arielle Levites (NYU)
2013 Greg Beiles (OISE, U of Toronto) and Owen Gottlieb (NYU)
2015 Lauren Applebaum (JTS), Mijal Bitton (NYU), and Matt Williams (Stanford)
2016 Sarah Ossey (NYU) and Sara Smith (NYU)
2018 Daniel Olson (NYU) and Ilana Horwitz (Tulane)
2021 Talia Hurwich (NYU) and Josh Ladon (JTS)
2022 Esther Friedman (Hebrew University) and Rudy Kisler (McGill University)
2023 Saul Kaiserman (JTS) and Sarah Schwartzman (Colorado Boulder)
2024 Benji Davis (University of Haifa), Mindy Gold (University of Louisville) and Bryan Hanan Oren (University of Haifa)  and