Tali E. Zelkowicz, Rabbi, Ph.D.

Contact Information

Assistant Professor of Education, Professor Sara S. Lee Chair for an Emerging Scholar in Jewish Education

HUC-JIR/Los Angeles

Schools of Education; Certificate in Jewish Education, Specializing in Adolescents and Emerging Adults; DeLeT, Los Angeles; Rabbinical Program, Los Angeles; Rhea Hirsch School of Education, Los Angeles
Academic Field: 
Contemporary Jewish Studies; Jewish Education; Professional Development; Comtemporary Jewry
Research Interests: 
Jewish and ethnic identity formation; Jewish education; Day schools; Ethnography

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Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Dr. Tali Zelkowicz completed her undergraduate work in sociology at the University of British Columbia (1995) before attending HUC-JIR Los Angeles, where she received an M.A. in Jewish Education from the Rhea Hirsch School of Education (2000), and was ordained as a rabbi at the Los Angeles campus (2002). She also studied sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1993-94). She earned her doctorate at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development (2008), as a Wexner Graduate Fellow. She received the 2006 Young Scholar’s Award, from the Network for Research in Jewish Education and was granted a Writing Dissertation Fellowship for the 2006-2007 year from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture.

From 2004-2010, she served as the Director of Jewish Programming for Day School Leadership through Teaching. Since 2007, Dr. Zelkowicz has been Assistant Professor of Education in the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at HUC in Los Angeles, where she teaches a variety of classes related to contemporary Jewish life, identity formation, and education. Specializing in the sociology of Jewish Education, she is interested in the tensions Jewish Americans face as they navigate multiple and often competing identities. Focusing upon the role of conflict in American Jewish identity formation, Zelkowicz is currently working on a book with the working title, “Teaching on Eggshells: Dissonance and Ethnic Identity Formation.” The book examines the relative durability and fragility of Jewish and secular educational cultures. Tali lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.

Selected Publications and Edited Works

“Letting Go without Abandoning.” (working title, forthcoming 2014) In Menachem Rosensaft (Ed), God, Faith and Identity in the Ashes. Vermont: Jewish Lights.

“Bring Jewish Education into the World Students Inhabit.” Reform Judaism Magazine, Spring 2014, pp. 62-64.

National Avichai Study of “Day Schools and Their Jewish Missions,” forthcoming March 2014:

    • “Oakland Hebrew Day School: A ‘Modern Paradox’ School” (with Cheryl Finkel)
    • “There is No Such Thing as Too Jewish: New Community Jewish High School” (with Cheryl Finkel)
    • “A New Tense for Hebrew: The Past, Present and Possible at Hausner Day School” (with Cheryl Finkel)
    • “Against All Odds: How a Day School Does Jewish Outreach” (co-authored with Reuven Greenvald)

“Beyond a Humpty Dumpty Narrative: In Search of New Rhymes and Reasons in the Research of Contemporary American Jewish Identity Formation,” International Journal of Jewish Education Research, 2013 (5-6), 21-46.

“Educating for Jewish Identities: Multiple and Moving Targets,” with Stuart Charmé, in Lisa Grant, Helena Miller, and Alex Pomson (ed’s) (2011) The International Handbook of Jewish Education. New York: Springer.

“Jewish Identities in Action: An Exploration of Models, Metaphors, and Methods,” with Stuart Charmé, Bethamie Horowitz, and Jeffrey Kress. Journal of Jewish Education, Vol 74, Num 2, 2008.

“Authoring, Authority, and Authenticity: The Storying of Jewish Education.”
Sh’ma: A Journal for Jewish Responsibility (March 2010)

“At Home with Many Identities.”  Sh’ma: A Journal for Jewish Responsibility (Dec 2004)

Current and Future Courses
Sociology of Jewish Education (EDU 610)
Introduction to Jewish Education (PDE 604)
Jewish Identity Formation (CJE 400)
Social Context of North American Jewish Education (XED 535)
Curriculum Design (EDU 630)
Guided Independent Research for Curriculum Guide (EDU 699)
Introduction to Jewish Texts (EDU 510)
Survey of Biblical and Rabbinic Sources (CS 484)
Public Lecture Topics
"Jungle Gyms and China Shops: Navigating the Durability and Fragility of Jewish Educational Cultures"
“The Present, Past, and Possible in American Jewish Education: Bringing [post-] Modern Jewish Thought Home: Issues, Trends, and Leadership Challenges in 21st Century Jewish Life”
“Survivalism and Jewish Identity Formation”
"Beyond a Humpty-Dumpty Narrative: In Search of New Rhymes and Reasons to American Jewish Identity"
“Microscopes, Cameras, and Telescopes: A Trifocal Lens on Seeing Day Schools Anew”
"Why Planning Backwards is Forward Thinking: Curriculum Design”
“Audacious Assessment: Professional Chutzpah in Jewish Education”
"Lost in Translation: Wearing and Carrying Israel in America"