HUC-JIR Launches Fourth Cohort of Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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HUC-JIR Launches Fourth Cohort of Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) launched its fourth cohort of thirteen students on May 20, 2014 with a three-day intensive seminar at the Cincinnati campus, followed by a two-week Summer Institute at the New York campus from June 15-26, 2014. 

The Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education, a 24-month-long program of study, is made possible by the generous grant support of the Jim Joseph Foundation.  The Jim Joseph Foundation has provided $15 million to HUC-JIR to increase the number and enhance the quality of Jewish educators working with Jewish youth and young adults through the development of new certificate and degree programs and training and mentoring new and practicing educational professional.

“The Executive M.A. Program builds on the ‘wisdom of practice’ that the students have developed during their years of service to schools and congregations.  The program enables them to enhance their knowledge about Judaism, strengthen their understanding of education, and refine their leadership capacity,” stated Dr. Michael Zeldin, Senior National Director of the Schools of Education at HUC-JIR.

Lesley Litman, Coordinator of the Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education, explained, “This group of students is particularly diverse in terms of the Jewish educational settings in which they serve.  The unique perspective each student brings to the Executive M.A. experience is already apparent after just two weeks of learning together at the New York campus.  This cohort is both intellectually and spiritually inspiring as they bring the wisdom of their collective experiences together with their coursework thereby enriching both their academic learning and their workplaces.”  

The Executive M.A. Program is designed for educational professionals with a minimum of five years of experience working in the field who seek advanced academic and professional training through a part-time program that allows them to strengthen their skills and knowledge while continuing to live and work in their own communities throughout North America.  The Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education offers a course of study that utilizes the cohort-based approach of many executive M.B.A. programs and high-quality doctoral programs in Education.  Through a series of intensive on-site seminars at HUC-JIR’s campuses in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York; cohort learning with long-distance courses; and mentorship by veterans in the field; students emerge with enhanced knowledge, honed educational skills, and strengthened leadership capacity that will enable them to transform Jewish education in their own institutions.

From May 20-22, the cohort studied with HUC-JIR’s leading education faculty, including Rabbi Samuel K. Joseph, Professor of Jewish Education and Leadership Development at our Cincinnati campus; Dr. Michael Zeldin; and Dr. Evie Rotstein, Director of the New York School of Education.  In addition, students studied with Dr. Gary P. Zola, Executive Director of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center for the American Jewish Archives and Professor of the American Jewish Experience, and Dr. Jonathan Cohen, Dean, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, and met with their mentors who are guiding their journey throughout the program. 

The goals of this first intensive learning experience were to build cohort relationships and connections with the academic and clinical faculty; establish familiarity with HUC-JIR’s research resources, including the campus-wide system of the Klau Library, the second largest Jewish library in the world, and the American Jewish Archives, the renowned center of study, research, and publication in the field of American Jewish history; and synthesize and take home new learning in Jewish studies and education.

The cohort began their learning in earnest at a Summer Institute in residence at HUC-JIR/New York with two intensive courses during the final two weeks of June.  Rabbi Michael Marmur, Ph.D., Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost at HUC-JIR, taught a course in Modern Jewish Thought and Dr. Adriane Leveen, Senior Lecturer in Hebrew Bible and Lead Judaica Specialist in the Jim Joseph Foundation Education Initiative at HUC-JIR, taught a course on the Jewish Textual Tradition with a particular focus on Bible.  The instructors noted that the learning was substantially enriched by the great wealth of experience students brought to bear on the learning.

Reflecting on their experience in their first two courses, students had the following to share:

At the core of the Executive M.A. program is the integration of ancient to modern Jewish thought and practice into our work as Jewish Educators. The diversity, knowledge, and experience of the cohort members, combined with the truly outstanding teaching faculty and curriculum, combine for an unparalleled learning experience. From the introductory class and discussions to the most recent summer intensive, the program has had an immediate, positive impact on the work that I do with students, teachers, and families. - Ben Sandler, Congregation Beth Israel Portland, Oregon

The HUC-JIR Executive M.A. Program combines expert instruction with a remarkable opportunity to meet with other educators and leaders in the field of Jewish education.  Our cohort members come from different backgrounds (including temple educators, youth advisors, and rabbis), but we share a common desire to strengthen our knowledge and skills and to grow as educational leaders.  It is so exciting to participate in a program that allows me to reshape my educational perspective with new knowledge of Jewish tradition, educational best practices, and leadership skills. And, because the Program allows me to continue working while I am studying, I can apply my new knowledge in real-time which benefits my congregation and me greatly. - Laura Naide, Beth El Hebrew Congregation, Alexandria, VA 

For more information about the Executive M.A. Program, click here or contact Lesley Litman, Program Coordinator, at



Rabbi Ilyse Glickman is the spiritual leader and Director of Education at Am Shalom Congregation in Barrie, Ontario. She received a Master’s Degree in Jewish Literature in 2003, and was ordained in 2004 at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. Rabbi Glickman has served as Interim Director of Education for Temple Shaaray Tefila in Manhattan, Program Director for Hillel at York University, and National Social Action Coordinator at the Canadian Council for Reform Judaism. She currently coordinates the Jewish Information Class, the city-wide conversion program under the auspices of the Reform Rabbis of Greater Toronto. Rabbi Glickman sits on the Boards of Shoresh Jewish Environmental Programs, Limmud Toronto, and Faith in the City (a Toronto-based social action group bringing together citizens of faith). Rabbi Glickman is happily married to Cantor David Rosen and together they are having a fantastic time raising their twoyear old son. 


Barrett Harr serves as the Union for Reform Judaism’s Regional Director of Youth Engagement in Michigan.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Texas at Dallas and her Certificate in Jewish Education Specializing in Adolescents and Emerging Adults from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.  Barrett has worked in various roles in formal and informal Jewish education over the past 15 years including preschool teacher, religious school teacher, Kadima and Confirmation Coordinator, youth director, and Director of Youth Engagement. Barrett and her husband live in Farmington Hills, MI, with their two daughters, Elana and Shoshanna.


Rabbi Jessica Locketz is the Associate Rabbi and Director of Education at Temple Emanuel of South Hills, having served for ten years in this capacity. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor of Arts in both History and Hebrew and Semitic Studies, and then earned a M.A. in Hebrew Letters as well as rabbinical ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Over the past 25 years, Jessica has worked in various roles in the Jewish community including director of education, religious school principal, music and tefilla coordinator, madrichim (student assistants) supervisor, youth director, b’nei mitzvah tutor, camp staff member, and classroom teacher.  As a rabbi, she has served congregations in West Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Virginia and Pittsburgh. Jessica and her husband Larry Schwartz live in Pittsburgh with their two sons, Eitan and Ezra. 


Emily Gill Messinger serves as Director of Teen Engagement at Temple Isaiah in Lexington, MA. She is responsible for creating and implementing a visionary Jewish educational and communal experience for youth in grades 7­12.  This includes constructing an intellectually stimulating, holistic, safe, supportive, and sacred Jewish environment that enables teens to explore ways in which Judaism can be woven into their everyday lives, offering value to everything they do. More specifically, Emily is the grade coordinator for seventh grade, directs Tichon Isaiah, Temple Isaiah’s weekly high school religious program, and oversees LEFTY. Emily received her B.A. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Psychology and Judaic Studies. Emily has continued to develop her professional skills with courses at the Brandeis Hornstein Program and Hebrew College. Emily is married with two daughters, ages 4 and 7. She and her family reside in Bedford, MA. 


Laura Naide is the Assistant Education Director at Beth El Hebrew Congregation in Alexandria, Virginia.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology from California State University, Long Beach from which she graduated Phi Beta Kappa.  She earned her Juris Doctor degree from Georgetown University Law Center.  Laura has worked in various roles in Jewish education over the past 30 years, including assistant educator director, classroom and online teacher, continuing education coordinator, and program developer.  Laura and her husband Eric live in Alexandria, VA, with their two daughters. 


Rabbi Shoshana Nyer joined the Suburban Temple – Kol Ami community as Director of Lifelong Learning in July 2012, after serving Temple B'nai Shalom in Fairfax Station, VA, for nine years as first Assistant, then Associate Rabbi and Educator. Before arriving in Northern Virginia, Shana earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Jewish Studies at the University of Maryland, and then studied at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, where in addition to achieving her ordination, she earned her Hebrew Literature.  Shana loves teaching students of all ages, and is most excited when her lessons combine her knowledge of and passion for Judaism and her interest in all things pop culture. When she is not at work, Shana enjoys spending time with her husband, Stephen Langel, and their daughter, Emily.


Cathy Rolland is a member of the Union for Reform Judaism faculty, serving as the Director of Early Childhood Engagement for the past six years.  Cathy was a founding member and the first president of the Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism (ECE-RJ), an affiliate of the URJ.  She continues to serve as the URJ liaison to ECE-RJ. Cathy was the director of Mountain Top School for Young Children at Temple Har Shalom in Warren, NJ, for 11 years before joining the URJ. Cathy holds a graduate certificate in Jewish Early Childhood Educational Leadership from Gratz College, and is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Cathy and her husband reside in Watchung, NJ. Her three adult sons are currently living in Colorado attending school and running their own business.


Ben Sandler is the Director of Education for Congregation Beth Israel in Portland, OR. Ben earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at Indiana University.  He attended Lewis and Clark College and Portland State University for his Master’s studies with an emphasis on Special Education. Ben graduated in 2004 from the Leadership 2000+ Educational Policy, Foundations, and Administrative Studies program at Portland State University, and is a licensed Oregon principal and teacher. He has served as the Director of Education for Congregation Beth Israel since 2004. Active in the Portland educational community, Ben has been a member of the Portland Mayor’s education cabinet, co-chairs the Portland Area Jewish Educators group, and works with graduate students at Portland State University in the school counseling department. Ben lives with his wife and two daughters in Portland, OR.


Barb Shimansky is the Director of Youth Education at Congregation Sinai in Milwaukee, WI. She earned her B.A. in Psychology from Michigan State University and her MSW from Wayne State University. Barb has worked in Jewish education at both the elementary and secondary levels since 1998. She continues to serve as visiting faculty during the summer at the URJ’s Kutz Camp. Barb has extensive experience working with youth groups and has facilitated workshops on informal education at URJ conferences. She previously worked in child welfare, serving as a social worker in school, foster care, and juvenile justice settings. Barb recently co-chaired the 2014 NATE Kallah and is now serving as a co-chair of the NATE Membership Connections committee. Barb and her husband, Jake, live in Deerfield, IL, with their three children, Ethan, Aidan, and Caleb.


Jo-Ellen Unger serves Har Sinai Congregation of Owings Mills, MD, as Director of Congregational Learning.  She has held positions in both formal education and informal education for almost 25 years, having worked previously for the Union for Reform Judaism, Temple Beth El of Boca Raton, FL, and Congregation Ahavath Chesed in Jacksonville, FL.  A graduate of the National Shakespeare Conservatory in New York City, Jo-Ellen is passionate about the performing arts and incorporates this love into the creative expression of Judaism.  She and her husband, Adam, a caterer, are parents to Jacob, 16, and Micah, 11.


Joan Wallis is the Moving Traditions' Central and Southwestern Regional Director, Senior Educator at the Mizel Museum, and Chair of the Jewish Educators Council in Denver, CO. She earned her B.A. in Education at Lesley College, a B.S. in Nursing at NYU, and M.S. in Maternal Child Nursing (Midwifery) at the University of Colorado. Joan has worked in various roles in Jewish education over the past 15 years, including as a second and seventh grade religious school teacher; “Rosh Hodesh: It's a Girl Thing!” group leader, trainer, and mentor; Chair of her synagogue's High Holiday Committee, and participates on itsExecutive Council. Joan and her husband Abbott live and play in Golden, CO. They are the very proud parents of twin sons age 24.


Laura Wolfson serves as the Director of Education and Co-Cantorial Soloist at Temple Anshe Sholom in Hamilton, ON, Canada. She is a URJ Camp and NFTY-EIE alumnus. She earned her Bachelor of Science at University of Toronto, her Master's Degree in Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University, and her Bachelor of Education at Brock University. She has volunteered and worked in various capacities in Jewish communal life for the past 30 years, including B'nai Mitzvah Teacher, Youth Advisor, Religious School Principal, Temple President, URJ Camp George Faculty Dean, and Meshuggena Warriors Dragonboat Team Leader. Laura and her partner Tish live in Dundas, ON, Canada with their daughter Hannah, age 12. She also has a married stepson.


Rabbi Daniel Young is the Congregational School Market Manager at the Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education in Miami.  He is also the Curriculum Coordinator for SHORESH: An Afterschool Judaics Program, providing Jewish content to students at a Hebrew language charter school in Miami.  Rabbi Young has worked as a teacher and educator in religious schools, day schools, adult education, and at Jewish camps.  He is the author of Marriage with Meaning: A Values-Based Model for Premarital Preparation (iUniverse, 2011).  Rabbi Young is a graduate of Northwestern University (BA in Political Science, 1999) and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (MAHL, 2002; Rabbinical Ordination, 2004).  He lives in Miami with his wife, Beth.



The Jim Joseph Foundation Education Initiative at HUC-JIR expands HUC-JIR’s education programs to reach a wide variety of people from across the United States with a broad range of interests in the field of Jewish education.  In addition to generous scholarships, the initiative enables HUC-JIR to create an Executive M.A. Program; certificates in Jewish education of adolescents and emerging adults and in Jewish early childhood education; alumni induction and retention programs; and a joint rabbinical-education program in Cincinnati and cantorial-education program in New York (to complement the current rabbinical-education program in Los Angeles and New York).

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.