Executive M.A. Students Honored for their Work in the Field of Jewish Education - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Executive M.A. Students Honored for their Work in the Field of Jewish Education

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Two exemplary students in the third cohort of the Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education have been honored for their work in the field of Jewish education. The Paradigm Project, where Anna Hartman works as a consultant to early childhood settings, received a Signature Grant from The Covenant Foundation to fund Nurturing and Networking the Seeds of ExcellenceZachary Rolf received The Jewish Education Project’s 2014 Young Pioneers Award, which celebrates forward thinking and innovative educators, under the age of 36, who are creating 21st century Jewish education for children, teens, and families.

The Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education, a cohort learning program in HUC-JIR’s Schools of Education, offers advanced academic and professional training to leaders in Jewish education with a minimum of five years of experience in the field. Hartman, Rolf, and the students and alumni of the Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education are intellectually curious and apply their creativity and enthusiasm to breathe new life into cherished traditions. Their passion for the future is balanced with a respect for the past as they question what is and imagine what can be.

Executive M.A. Program Director Lesley Litman stated, “The students in this program come from a broad range of Jewish educational settings.  They each excel in their work and through their learning, they enrich each other, their teachers, and the field of Jewish education as a whole.  We are so proud of Anna and Zach and their accomplishments.  We see them and their fellow students' extraordinary potential to shape Jewish life and the Jewish people today and in the future.”

Dr. Michael Zeldin, Senior National Director of the Schools of Education, continued, “The Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education provides talented educators like Anna and Zach the opportunity to benefit from the intellectual and professional richness of HUC-JIR’s Schools of Education to enhance their capacity to touch the lives of their students and their families and to transform the communities they serve.  We are so proud that these two fine educators have already been recognized for the difference they are making.”

Anna Hartman works at the Paradigm Project, a team of practitioner-activists passionate about envisioning and realizing the incredible potential of the early childhood years for children, families, educators, and communities.  Hartman works with early childhood educators in Jewish settings around the country to expand their vision for what is possible and support them as they take next steps.  

The Paradigm Project’s Nurturing and Networking the Seeds of Excellence offers a flexible, cost-effective, and blended-learning approach to systemic change in Jewish Early Childhood Education. The Signature Grant from The Covenant Foundation will help fund one-year Fellowships that will further the Paradigm Project’s mission of “multiplying and nurturing the seeds of excellence in Jewish Early Childhood Education.”

Hartman explains, “At the Paradigm Project, we develop and nurture communities of practitioner-activists in early childhood education. We believe this is the essential element that elevates one's work to its full potential.  Our leadership team formed out of just one such community.  

“In 2013, I began the Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education and this community supported me, and our efforts at Paradigm, as we dreamed bigger dreams and took greater risks.  The Grant reflects how much smarter we have become in our use of technology to support distance learning (thanks to the ed-tech thinking at HUC-JIR), and it is a recognition of our network-wide social media campaigns inspired by Executive M.A. coursework on modern Jewish thinkers. 

“Having regular assignments and a monthly coaching call during which I analyze and plan how to incorporate new learning into my work is a model that has benefited Paradigm tremendously and is one that we utilize in helping our learners apply new ideas in their communities.”

A graduate of Emory University, Hartman was a fellow for four years with the JECEI-Covenant Early Childhood Leadership program.  In 2011, she won the Covenant Foundation's inaugural Pomegranate Prize for exceptional emerging professionals in Jewish education.  Hartman lives with her husband and two children in the Boston area.

Zachary Rolf is changing the way teenagers engage with their Jewish community as a part of Central Synagogue in Manhattan.  As Director for Youth Engagement and Outreach for students in third to twelfth grade, Rolf has led a transformation in the congregation’s youth programming culture.  Under his leadership, there have been major successes in post-b’nei mitzvah engagement.  Additionally, the multiple youth groups have provided opportunities for elementary students to engage Jewishly outside of the classroom.  The common denominator for all of these accomplishments is the relationship formed between students and the congregation – with peers, educators, and clergy.  Rolf has created dynamic options for students at any age and has made the synagogue community relevant and important to children and teens. 

Rolf and the four other recipients of The Jewish Education Project’s 2014 Young Pioneers Award demonstrated a personal and professional commitment to new ideas, and proven use of technology or other innovative approaches to inspire students and families.  The recipients stood out by designing or implementing new educational initiatives, and by engaging and motivating colleagues as well as their leadership to also embrace new ideas.  The recipients of the Young Pioneers Award will be recognized at the Celebration to benefit The Jewish Education Project on May 21, 2014 at The New York Academy of Medicine.

Rolf explained, “Innovation does not happen in a vacuum.  The Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education has given me the opportunity to learn with, and from, incredible change-makers in the field of Jewish education. We have been given the opportunity to pick one another's brains, workshop ideas together, and challenge each other every step of the way.  This is what it means to be a Jewish educator in 2014, and this is what is encouraged through the Executive M.A. Program at HUC-JIR!”

If you are an educator with a minimum of five years of experience in a leadership position in the field of Jewish education, the Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education at HUC-JIR is for you. This program is ideally suited for professionals looking to expand their professional learning who cannot enroll in HUC-JIR's full-time programs due to employment and location. You will study in intensive onsite seminars at our campuses in Cincinnati, New York, Los Angeles, and Jerusalem, participate in e-learning courses, be guided by clinical faculty mentors who are veterans in the field, and engage in a culminating capstone project. After 24 months of study with our full-time faculty, you will emerge from this innovative program with enhanced knowledge, honed pedagogical skills, and strengthened leadership capacity that will enable you to enrich your career, enhance your role as a Jewish educator, and transform Jewish education in your own institution. Learn more about the Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education >


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates leaders to serve North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu