Course of Study - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Kickstart your future as a Jewish leader today

The Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education is multi-faceted program designed to meet a broad range of student needs and take advantage of both distance and face-to-face learning opportunities.

After admission to the program, you will begin to study together with your cohort in late February with a 2.5-day orientation intensive followed by your first online course beginning in early March. You will be paired with a mentor - a senior professional in the field of Jewish education trained specifically for this role - who will help guide your intellectual, professional, and personal journey.

During the course of the Executive M.A. Program, you will immerse yourself in online studies reinforced by two three-day on-site intensive learning experiences. Three ten-day seminars will include two seminars at HUC’s New York campus and a 10- to 12-day seminar in Israel in December of your first or second year in the program. Your studies will culminate in your Capstone Project, guided by members of the HUC-JIR faculty, and a two-day intensive just prior to graduation in New York where you will present the findings from your Capstone Project.

Courses Include:

    • Jewish Educational Leadership
    • Organizational Systems and Change
    • The Jewish Textual Tradition: Bible
    • The Jewish Textual Tradition: Rabbinics
    • Professional Learning
    • The Jewish Historical Experience
    • Ideologies of Jewish Education
    • Modern Jewish Thought
    • Teaching and Learning
    • Curriculum
    • Social Context of North American Jewish Education.

Executive M.A. Program Requirements:

    • Online courses (2 seven-week courses per semester over three semesters)
    • One 3-day intensive each fall (4 intensives total including orientation and final capstone project intensives)
    • One 10-day summer institute each summer (2 courses per institute for a total of 4 courses)
    • A 10-12-day seminar in Israel in December of the first of second year of the program
    • Capstone Project (Spring semester of the second year)
    • Clinical Mentoring

Course Descriptions

3 unit online courses include a seven-week online component as well as a three-day intensive seminar

2 unit online courses are entirely online (seven weeks)

XED 500 Introduction to Jewish Educational Leadership – Joseph/Leveen – 2 units

This course addresses key issues in leadership within a Jewish educational setting through an integrated study of biblical texts with contemporary research on the challenges and strategies of successful leadership. We assume that an interaction of tradition and contemporary Jewish life will create powerful and rich possibilities for creative thinking and reflective practice. Topics include Jewish leadership models; the culture of an organization, including its values/mission/vision; transformation and change.  (Fall – pre-admission)


XED529 Ideologies of Jewish Education – Litman- 2 units

The basic structure of most schools (both general and Jewish) has remained remarkably stable over the past century, despite the many critiques that have been leveled against it.  This course offers students the opportunity to re-think and re-envision Jewish educational institutions by examining the educational values they deem most important, exploring multiple ideologies (Jewish and general) of education and schooling, and challenging prevailing assumptions that are rarely questioned. This is the first of a two-part series which will continue in at the June summer intensive with XED561: Modern Jewish Thought.


XED561 Modern Jewish Thought – Katzew – 2 units

In this course students intensively study Modern Jewish Thought with an aim to uncover and appreciate its educational implications, looking through the lens of five Jewish thinkers. We will concentrate on people who thought and taught, read and wrote and reflected, and whose ideas have withstood the test of time, and sometimes even gained traction over time.  In addition, students will encounter the dynamic balance between the field of practice and the academy, or in the words of the preeminent educational thinker John Dewey, experience and education.


XED510 Torah Study for the 21st Century – Leveen – 2 units

In this course, students with a broad range of text study will have the opportunity to focus much more intensively and specifically on highly salient biblical topics and themes as reflected in multiple texts and multiple perspectives. You will do so while at the same time sharpening and deepening your skills in biblical Hebrew. 


The following three courses, Educational Practice 1, 2 and 3 are part of an integrated sequence design by the team of instructors.  Each of the courses includes elements of professional learning and builds on the previous course.


XED516 Educational Practice I:  Learning for who? Learning for Why? Stern, Litman -2 units

Learners are the raison d’etre for the work we do as Jewish educational leaders.  Who are our learners?  What are their life tasks at a given moment and how do we address those tasks and needs over time to best support them in their Jewish growth and learning? What demands does the world around us place on our learners and what are the implications for our work.  Our staff are also learners who bring their own developmental needs and tasks to the table.  This course will explore all of these questions as they relate to your work as Jewish educational leaders. 


XED517 Educational Practice 2: Learning for how:  Zakai – 3 units 

This course introduces students to a range of pedagogic tools and technologies that support learners in acquiring habits of mind leading to their capacity to engage deeply in Jewish living and learning.  Students will explore the concept of pedagogic content knowledge as a way to frame Jewish content, anticipating learners' questions and/or misunderstandings along with their interests and development. This course includes an in-person intensive with a particular focus on creativity and the arts in Jewish teaching and learning.


XED518 Educational Practice 3:  Learning design and decisions – Litman, Rotstein– 2 units

This course prepares students to think about and carry out the leadership tasks Jewish educators perform in designing learning experiences and sequences. The course introduces students to the process of “backwards design,” and to concepts and theories involved in thinking about curriculum and learning design as they can be used in Jewish educational settings.  As part of this course, students will choose a priority education goal for their settings and shepherd it through the buy-in and design process. This course includes the culminating process for the Educational Practice strand. 


XED 505 Jewish Historical Experience – Hochman – 2 units

This course focuses on the intersection of Jewish history as a field of inquiry and as a vehicle for enhancing identity and promoting citizenship. Students investigate issues related to the teaching and learning of Jewish history, while enhancing their own knowledge of the field. Particular emphasis is placed on the modern Jewish experience, including the Shoah, Israel, and American Jewish life.   


XED535 The Social Context of North American Jewish Education – Lynn-Sachs – 2 units

This course draws upon the tools of social science, and sociology in particular, to explore historical and contemporary understandings of the purposes of Jewish education, focusing on the American context. Through an examination of various contexts and cultures of Jewish education, students reconsider and refine basic assumptions about Jewish education, and demythologize and problematize dominant narratives of contemporary phenomena in the field.


XED 540 Jewish Educational Leadership – Zeldin – 2 units

This course is designed to help students develop a deeper understanding of issues involved in leading a Jewish school or educational agency and a deeper understanding of themselves in their leadership roles.  The course opens with an exploration of how a Jewish educational leader's

self-understanding affects the way he or she leads, and then turns to an examination of a variety of approaches to leadership, drawing on educational and business literature as well as classical and modern Jewish texts, with particular attention to their applicability to Jewish educational



XED545 Textual Tradition: Rabbinics – Zion- 2 units

This course introduces students to the various genres of rabbinic literature, in particular mishna, gemara and midrash from the perspective of their central role in the ongoing creativity that has led to the flourishing of the Jewish people over centuries and through generations.  The goal is to help students delve into the rabbinic mind and heart and bring these sensibilities through creative and study practices to their educational settings.


XED550 Organizational Systems and Change – Joseph – 3 units

This course introduces concepts, theories and current research in the effective management and leadership of organizations. The course will also focus on the design and implementation of organizational change. We look at organizations from a variety of theoretical perspectives and consider the implications for change from each perspective. Topics include the basics of systems thinking, as well as team and group dynamics. This course includes a face to face intensive that will include the role of creativity in addressing organizational systems and change.  


XED570 Israel Seminar:  Peoplehood –Joseph, Leigh, Litman – 4 units 

The question at the heart of the seminar is why should Israel matter to American Jewish life?  We consider this question by exploring the multiple historical, religious, political, social, and cultural dimensions of am, Torah, eretz, and medinat Yisrael.  The goal is to develop a deep and multi-layered appreciation for thinking about and teaching Israel as an integral and indispensable resource for individual and collective Jewish life. 


XED599 Capstone Project – Clinical Faculty – 2 units 

Through a guided independent study students are immersed in a professional and grounded discourse of persistent and contested issues in the field (enduring dilemmas), making them full participants in the larger conversation and empowering them to generate strategies for facing the most significant and enduring dilemmas in their particular sub-fields and settings of Jewish Education creatively, collaboratively, and critically/analytically. 


XED525 Clinical Education I - Clinical Faculty (Litman) – 1 unit - Fall

XED526 Clinical Education II- Clinical Faculty (Litman) – 1 unit - Spring

XED 565 Clinical Education III - Clinical Faculty (Litman) – 1 unit – Fall

Working individually with a clinical faculty member and in small clinical mentoring groupings with other students, students explore ways in which learning in the academy is translated and implemented in the work setting.  Students are supported in rethinking what education in their setting is and developing their capacity to lead their institutions through a transformational change process while they themselves engage in both personal and professional transformation