We take great pride in our membership. We invite you to share your professional accomplishments with your NRJE colleagues.   Our next update will be in conjunction with our conference in June 2018.

It is with mixed emotions that we announce the retirement, effective July of 2017, of our longtime colleague and friend, Dr. Isa Aron, professor of Jewish education in the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. A graduate of Swarthmore College and the University of Chicago, Isa came to the Los Angeles campus of HUC-JIR to work as the educator at the Skirball Museum in 1978, and she joined the faculty in 1984. During her influential career as a professor and scholar, Isa has written on a daunting array of topics, from moral education, to the philosophy of education, and congregational change. The breadth of Isa’s interests is mirrored by her capacity and willingness to speak to multiple audiences, having written for many publications, scholarly and popular alike.

Isa has authored three books on congregational change, two of them (Becoming a Congregation of Learners and The Self-Renewing Congregation) sharing lessons gleaned from the Experiment in Congregational Education, the Rhea Hirsch School’s synagogue-transformation initiative. Most recently Isa authored, together with Steven M. Cohen, Lawrence Hoffman and Ari Y. Kelman, Sacred Strategies: Becoming a Visionary Congregation, which won the 2010 National Jewish Book Award. One reviewer describes not only Isa’s mastery of theory and practice but also the integrity that binds them together in her personality: Sacred Strategies “contributes immeasurably to a field that cries out for how-to guides grounded in theory and data mined from extensive research.”

One of liberal Judaism’s most indefatigable and innovative thinkers, Isa will continue to work with the Union for Reform Judaism to advance her current initiatives, the Bnai Mitzvah Revolution and Reinventing Congregational Education, which hold the promise of re-energizing congregational education.

Erica Brown is the director of the new Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership at The George Washington University and an associate professor in GW’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development, where the Center is housed.

Owen Gottlieb, assistant professor of interactive games and media and MAGIC Center affiliate, at Rochester Institute of Technology, co-presented the workshop “The Humanities Arcade: Playing with History and Culture in the Digital Age” at the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Human/Ties conference at The University of Virginia in September 2017.  He presented the digital prototype (funded by the NEH) of Lost & Found, a game to teach medieval religious legal systems, beginning with the Mishneh Torah.  The project was selected to be in the arcade alongside PBS’ Mission U.S. and USC’s Walden.  In September, Owen received an NSF grant to build out a network of early career Games and Learning scholars with Co-PI Crystle Martin (UC Irvine).  His current research has a few branches – the Initiative in Religion, Culture, and Policy at the RIT MAGIC Center (games and interactive media for religious literacy, acquisition of cultural practices, and policy impact).   Recently, he also presented at Hebrew Union College’s Symposium One with a discussion lead by Lisa Grant.  Owen is editing an upcoming special issue of Gamevironments:  Jewish Gamevironments.  Abstracts due in March.  See the call for papers here.

Barry W. Holtz, Theodore and Florence Baumritter Professor of Jewish Education at JTS, has edited a volume collecting the major works of Prof. Joseph Lukinsky z”l, one of the giants in our field. This recently published 500 page book,entitled Maybe the Lies We Tell are Really True: Selected Writings on Education, Judaism and Jewish Education, is a joint publication of JTS Press and the William Davidson School. There are a limited number of hardcover copies available to NRJE members at the discounted rate of $25 including domestic shipping. Checks should be made out to JTS Press and sent to Prof. Barry Holtz/Jewish Theological Seminary/3080 Broadway/New York, NY 10027. (Sorry, no credit cards!) A paperback version will be available on Amazon.com in the coming months.

Rachel Lerner is the dean of the Graduate Center for Jewish Education at the American Jewish University. She earned her Doctorate in Education from JTS as a Wexner Graduate Fellow/Davidson Scholar, where she studied how vision-guided education is implemented through the socialization of new teachers. Dr. Lerner has taught Masters-level education students at both the American Jewish University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, supervised student teachers in day schools and part-time Jewish schools, and held leadership positions in Jewish overnight camp. She has worked as an administrator and teacher in Jewish day schools—at both the elementary and high school levels.

Kate O’Brien (Wm. Davidson ’07 and JTS ’07) is now Director of Education at the Foundation for Jewish Camp, where she will be providing Jewish educational insight, direction, and coaching for the breadth of FJC’s programs. Most recently, Kate was the Director of Education, Innovation & Organizing at The Workmen’s Circle.

Diane Tickton Schuster has been appointed as Director of Portraits of Jewish Learning (PoJL), a new project of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis University. In Fall 2016 researchers and research-minded practitioners were invited to propose narratives about how learning occurs in Jewish education. Twelve papers were commissioned that will depict learning in diverse settings (including day schools, after school programs, Israel internships, adult Jewish learning classes).  Dr. Schuster is mentoring PoJL Fellows both individually and as a cohort as they strive to create a cohesive collection of learning portraits and deepen the discussion of what we mean by Jewish learning. A description of the project and the papers selected may be found here.

Laura Wiseman was installed in November 2016 as the Koschitsky Family Chair in Jewish Teacher Education at the Israel and Golda Koschitsky Centre for Jewish Studies at York University in Toronto.

From Benjamin Jacobs:  It is my sad duty to report the  passing of our colleague, friend, and mentor Harold Wechsler z”l. I say “our” colleague, friend, and mentor because Harold served in one or more of these capacities for many members of the Network, not to mention scores of students and faculty members outside of the NRJE over a long career in academia.  Following stints at the University of Chicago and the University of Rochester (his beloved adopted town, despite the massive snowdrifts), Harold was professor of History of Education and Jewish Education at New York University, where he co-directed the doctoral program in Education & Jewish Studies, guided many students and theses to completion, and took in a Mets game whenever he could.  He also served for the past several years as chair of the Network’s awards committee.  Indeed, he was hard-working and remarkably dedicated to the profession till the end.  Harold died unexpectedly but peacefully at his home sometime Thursday night.  He was predeceased by his wife Lynn Gordon, also an accomplished educational historian, and is survived by his children Abby (and family) and Sam.

Read more about Harold’s extraordinary work, research and career shaping our field.



Learn more about the work of our colleagues. These blogs are direct links with the research, publications and updates from our constituent institutions, and provide a window into our colleagues’ work and practice.

EdJS at the Stanford Graduate School of Education

Azrieli Graduate School of Education and Administration at Yeshiva University

The Davidson School at The Jewish Theological Seminary

Brandeis University’s Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education

New York University: Education and Jewish Studies

Any of our constituent institutions currently publishing regularly updated blogs that link NRJE members with research and publications and help us to access our colleagues’ practice are invited to submit listings for this page.