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

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Monday, February 26, 2018

Cohort 7 of the Executive MA Program in Jewish Education at HUC-JIRThe Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) launched its seventh cohort of fifteen students with a three-day intensive seminar at the Cincinnati campus in February.

The Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education, a 24-month-long program of study, is made possible by a  grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation.  The launch of Cohort 7 marks the beginning of a newly reimagined program. Building on the strengths of earlier years, along with creative design partners theatre dybbuk and Jewish Studio Project, students will expand their capacity for creativity and engage with the arts more extensively as part of their leadership.

“At HUC-JIR’s School of Education, we envision educators guiding the Jewish people in weaving Jewish wisdom into creative thinking that strengthens humanity and uplifts society,” stated Dr. Miriam Heller Stern, National Director of the HUC-JIR School of Education. “The Executive M.A. is designed to prepare and embolden mid-career professionals to achieve our mission of preparing top-tier leaders who can bring about a creative Jewish revolution through their work throughout the field of Jewish education and with a wide variety of learners.”

Dr. Lesley Litman, Director 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 three days together at HUC-JIR’s Cincinnati 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 motivated working Jewish educational leaders with a minimum of five years experience in a Jewish educational leadership position who are seeking advanced academic and professional learning and who are ready to be at the vanguard. This part-time program enables students to continue to live and work in their own communities throughout North America as they strengthen and acquire skills and knowledge and apply these in real-time.

The program 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.  The cohort experience and deeply invested faculty provide the confidence and support structure educators need to take bold risks and succeed.

From February 5-7, 2018, the seventh cohort studied with leading education faculty, including Dr. Miriam Heller Stern and Rabbi Jan Katzew, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Education and Jewish Thought and Director of Service-Learning at HUC-JIR.  Reflecting an increased emphasis on creativity and the arts, students explored their learning aspirations and strengths with Aaron Henne, Artistic Director of theater dybbuk, Los Angeles.  In addition, students met with their mentors who are guiding their journey throughout the program and explored the treasures of HUC-JIR, including a session with Lisa Frankel, Director of Educational Outreach and Administration of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center for the American Jewish Archives and a graduate of Executive M.A. Cohort  2. 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 Network, 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.

Students begin their academic coursework in late February with their first interactive, online course, Ideologies of Jewish Education, with Dr. Lesley Litman, in which they will explore their unique voices and visions for Jewish education and Jewish educational leadership. In late June, students will gather at HUC-JIR’s New York campus for 10 days of in-person learning with Rabbi Jan Katzew, Ph.D.

Reflecting on their initial experience in Cincinnati, Sarah DeWoskin of Temple Bat Yam, East Ft. Lauderdale, FL, had the following to share:

I am incredibly excited to be a part of the Executive M.A. Program because I am eager to better develop language that promotes what I innately believe about educating our youth. Our time in Cincinnati started with us as unsure strangers, and ended with a cohort of learners and supporters ready to carry one another through this meaningful journey.

Susie Wexler, Director of the Early Childhood Program at Congregation B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim, Deerfield, IL, noted:

The EMA program at HUC-JIR is a chance to develop myself as a Jewish educational leader.  Being a professional in Jewish Early Childhood Education allows me to make a difference in the lives of young children and their families each day. Being enrolled in the EMA program exposes me to the best of educational practice and Judaic learning through cohort learning, outstanding instructors, high quality clinical guidance and a stellar national reputation all combined in one great program.

For more information about the Executive M.A. Program, click here or contact Lesley Litman, Ed.D., RJE, Program Director, at


Headshot of Miriam BerkMiriam Berk, Education Director of the Samuel M. Melton Religious School at Congregation Tifereth Israel in Columbus, OH, has been working in the field of Jewish education for over 25 years, having begun as a Bar/Bat Mitzvah tutor and teacher in Religious School as a teen. She has run regional youth groups, taught at summer camp, worked with American teens in Israel, taught in and run multiple congregational schools throughout North America, and worked in a central educational agency on the East Coast. She finds herself back at her home congregation running the Religious School 35 years after she graduated from its Hebrew High. Miriam holds a B.A. in Judaic Studies from The Ohio State University and several certificates in Jewish Family Education and Principal Leadership from the former University of Judaism and JESNA/Brandeis. Miriam lives in Columbus with her husband, Rabbi Arye Berk, and has successfully launched three children, two of whom now live in Israel.

Headshot of Mia CohenMia Cohen is serving the B'nai Israel Jewish Center as the Rabbinical Associate & co-directs their Religious School. She grew up in Nashville, TN, and did her undergraduate work in Asheville, NC, at Warren Wilson College. She received Semicha as a Jewish Spiritual Director through the Aleph Alliance for Jewish Renewal and has been a Talmidah Chachamah, student of Jewish Wisdom, for more than 15 years.  Mia has led numerous retreats, kids and family programs, Shabbat and Holiday services, and interfaith events.  She and her fiancé Alejandro Zimman live in Petaluma, CA, and are engaged to be married this coming March. 

Headshot of Sarah DeWoskinSarah DeWoskin is the Director of Education and Youth Services at Temple Bat Yam of East Fort Lauderdale. She earned her B.A. in Psychology and her certificate in Elementary Education from Brandeis University. Sarah has worked in various roles in formal and informal Jewish education over the past 17 years in both camp and synagogue settings. These roles include educator, youth director, admin team member, assistant camp director, camp care and machon director, and classroom teacher for preschool and religious school.  Sarah and her husband, Rabbi Frank DeWoskin, live in Davie, FL, with their three rambunctious, silly, sweet children - Elijah (11) and Mia and Livia (both turning 9 this month). She is passionate about her part in ensuring the future of Judaism.

Headshot of Roberta Franco GlickRoberta Franco Glick is the Internship Coordinator and immediate past chair of URJ's Eisner & Crane Lake Camps and 6-Points Sci-Tech Camp. She currently sits on the URJ's North American Board and most recently has been asked to serve on their Oversight Committee. She earned her Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from Hofstra University and a Master of Arts in Special Education and Elementary Education from Adelphi University. Roberta has been an active volunteer within the Reform world for over 15 years and her passion is Jewish camping and youth engagement. Roberta and her husband live in Syosset, NY. They have a daughter, Alicia, who recently graduated from Cornell University. 


Headshot of Max HendrixMax Hendrix is the Teen Director at Sabes JCC in Minneapolis, MN. His role is the first of its kind, where he runs both BBYO Northstar Council and NFTY Northern as well as having a role with the Team Minnesota Maccabi Games delegation. He earned his B.A. in Communications Studies with minors in Jewish Studies and Youth Studies from University of Minnesota - Twin Cities in the Spring of 2015. Max has worked in various roles in Jewish education over the past few years including work at Michigan and Minnesota Hillel as well as working as an assistant director at URJ Kutz Camp before taking on his current role. Max lives in Minneapolis with his significant other.

Headshot of Rabbi Amy B. HertzRabbi Amy B. Hertz grew up in Houston, TX, where her family was actively involved at Congregation Beth Israel and where she spent time as a camper, counselor, and educator at the URJ Greene Family Camp in Bruceville, TX.  Rabbi Amy received her B.A. in Mathematics and Economics from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. She went on to receive her Master’s degree in Hebrew Letters and rabbinical ordination from HUC-JIR in 2008.  After ordination, Rabbi Amy served as Rabbi and Director of Life Long Jewish Learning at Rodef Shalom Congregation in Pittsburgh, PA, and currently serves as the Director of Congregational Learning at Temple Isaiah in Lexington, MA.  Rabbi Amy lives in Lexington with her family.  She enjoys walking her hound dog, Mason, shopping, traveling, and doing arts and crafts.

Headshot of Ben MazurBen Mazur is the Director of Youth Engagement at Congregation B’nai B’rith in Santa Barbara, CA.  He received a degree in Religious Studies from North Carolina State University. Ben has spent every summer but one since 2002 at Jewish summer camp programs as a camper, counselor, unit head, and song leader, and has been a full-time Jewish educator since 2010.  He and his wife Dalia were married in July 2017 and are active members of the Santa Barbara young adult Jewish community.


Headshot of Debbi MorinDebbi Morin is the Youth Educator at Congregation B’nai Shalom in Westborough, MA. She earned a B.A. in Near Eastern Studies from Cornell University, and a Certificate in Adolescents and Emerging Adults from HUC-JIR. Debbi has worked in Jewish education for over 25 years, starting as a religious school teacher, Hebrew teacher, and B’nai Mitzvah tutor.  She has been in her current position as full-time Youth Educator for five years, overseeing all youth programming and having various responsibilities in the religious school, such as the 4th and 5th Grades Team Leader and the education seminars coordinator.  She is grateful that this position allows her to connect with all the students throughout their years at the temple. Debbi is the proud mom of Eve, who is an elementary school teacher in New York City as well as a religious school teacher; and Micali, who is a student at NYU Tisch School of the Arts.

Heasshot of Rabbi Wendy PeinRabbi Wendy Pein is the Director of Education and Youth Programming at Temple Israel of Northern Westchester and a chaplain and educator for the White Plains Center for Nursing Care in White Plains, NY. Rabbi Pein is the co-author of The Jewish Path, a discussion guide about Judaism for those seeking to learn more about Judaism and explore their spiritual direction. Rabbi Pein is passionate about Jewish education and revealing to others how Judaism is relevant and meaningful to our modern lives. She resides in Harrison, NY, with her husband Howard and two teenagers and lives by the maxim to “keep growing and learning.”


Headshot of David PerolmanDavid Perolman is the Education Director and Musical Presence for Temple Habonim in Barrington, RI. He earned his B.S. in Advertising & Music Production from Towson University (MD) and his M.A in Elementary Education from St. Joseph’s University (PA).  David has worked in various professional roles in Jewish education over the past 13 years including Specialty (Cooking), Choir Director, Family Educator, Assistant Education Director, B’nai Mitzvah Tutor, and Classroom Teacher, with 2 years as a secular middle school teacher. He enjoys writing music and learning instruments to add new layers and dimensions to his teaching. David and his wife Danielle live in Barrington with their 2 daughters, Ariel (5) and Sydney (3).

Headshot of Eran RosenbergEran Rosenberg serves as Jewish Studies Coordinator at Columbus Jewish Day School (CJDS) and teaches Hebrew language and Jewish Studies, grades 4-6. Born and raised in Israel, Eran began his professional career as an organizational and occupational psychologist evaluating educational systems and instruction, both in Israel and abroad. Eran is active in the Jewish life of Columbus, serving on the steering committee of the Partnership Together Program (a program connecting Kfar Saba, Israel and the Columbus, OH Jewish communities), offering B’nai Mitzvah instruction, chanting Torah at a variety of synagogues, conducting children’s programs, serving and leading on community holiday planning committees, and acting in local community theater. He enjoys hosting Shabbat and holiday meals for good friends and has an impressive and ever-growing collection of costumes, masks, and pencil sharpeners.

Headshot of Heather RosenthalHeather Rosenthal is the Religious School Principal at Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot in Irvine, CA. She attended California State University, Long Beach, where she earned both a B.A. in Liberal Studies- Natural Science andM.A. in Educational Administration. Heather has worked as a Middle School Science teacher in public education for 10 years, along with teaching Judaic studies for three years in a congregational setting before starting in her current role. She loves Angels baseball and spending time with family and friends.

Headshot of Marisa SchreirMarisa Schrier is the Director of Education and Family Programs at Temple Beth Torah, in Ventura, CAShe earned her B.A. in Sociology from California State University of Northridge. Marisa has worked in various roles in Jewish education over the past 20 years including Interim Principal, Curriculum Coordinator, Youth Group Director, B'nai Mitzvah Tutor, and Classroom Teacher.  Marisa and her husband Lou live in Ventura with their two children.


Headshot of Rabbi Jennifer WeinerRabbi Jennifer Weiner is the Rabbi Educator at Congregation Adat Reyim in Springfield, VA . She earned her B.A. in Comparative Religion with a Concentration in Elementary Education from Barnard College of Columbia University in New York, NY.  Rabbi Weiner has worked in various roles in Jewish education over the past 21.5 years including solo rabbi, Assistant Rabbi/Director of Education, Associate Rabbi/School Liaison, B’nai Mitzvah tutor, and classroom teacher.  Rabbi Weiner and her husband live in Springfield, VA, with their two children ages 10 and 5, and their dog named Ruby.  When not at work, Rabbi Weiner spends a lot of time learning about Pokemon and Super Mario Brothers from her children.   Rabbi Weiner’s 10 year-old has decided that his dream job is to have his Ima explain the individual Torah portions to his avatar, a Pikachu figure with a tallit and kippah named Jacob after the patriarchs and matriarchs in Torah, on a YouTube channel that will garnish millions of watchers!

Headshot of Susie WexlerSusie Wexler, Director of the Early Childhood Program at the Chava Center, brings over 25 years of experience working with Jewish families and young children.  She has a Bachelor in Psychology and a Master in Social Work from the University of Illinois.  As a lifelong learner, she has taken courses at Erikson Institute, Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, and is an active participant in CEELI (Chicago Early Engagement Leadership Institute).  She has been involved in Jewish education her entire adult life through her work at JCC, Jewish camping, and her service on the board of directors at Akiba Schecter Day School and Temple Beth El. Susie and her husband Dave maintain the home in Deerfield, IL, that their three children use as a base for their life adventures. 

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.