Distinguished School of Education Faculty Honored for Trailblazing Contributions to Reform Jewish Education

January 25, 2024

Two members of the School of Education at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion School of Education faculty, Rabbi Laura Novak Winer ’95, Ed.D., MAJE ’94 and Joy Wasserman, MAJE ’81 have been awarded the 2024 Distinguished Educator Award by the Association of Reform Jewish Educators (ARJE). This award, given annually, honors trailblazing educators who exemplify the values of the ARJE and make significant contributions to Reform Jewish education.

Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D., Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost and Associate Professor of Bible, said: “These two master Jewish educators, are being recognized for their long careers as dedicated, visionary leaders in the vital field of Jewish education. We at HUC-JIR benefit tremendously from the wisdom and experience that Laura Novak Winer and Joy Wasserman bring to their respective roles in the School of Education as they are shaping the next generation of stellar educational leaders to follow in their footsteps and make an impact on the world through Jewish education.”

Laura Novak WinerRabbi Dr. Laura Novak Winer, RJE is director of the Master of Educational Leadership Program at the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at the College and is a member of the School of Education faculty. She has been serving with distinction as a Jewish educator for a career trajectory spanning three decades. Novak Winer recently served as co-chair of HUC-JIR’s Teshuvah Working Group, which developed a set of recommendations designed to bring healing to those impacted by historic misconduct and strengthen institutional accountability. Since 2000, she has served in national positions as well as engaging in transformative consultancies, with organizations including the URJ, the iCenter, the Experiment in Congregational Education, and B’nai Mitzvah Revolution, always seeking new ways of thinking and challenging the status quo in congregational education, youth initiatives, and Israel education. She is currently a scholar in the Senior Fellows Program of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis University and has published in a variety of academic and professional journals and popular media. She is a past president of the ARJE (2015-2017) and has been a member of the URJ Camp Newman faculty for many years. Novak Winer earned her doctorate at the William Davidson Graduate School of Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, focusing on how teachers’ connections to, and understanding of, Israel impact how they teach about it. She received an MA in Jewish Education and rabbinical ordination from HUC-JIR and is a graduate of the Mandel Teacher Educator Institute.

Joy Wasserman headshotJoy Wasserman, RJE, a Clinical Faculty Member in the Executive Masters in Jewish Education (EMA), has played a variety of roles in the areas of alumni stewardship and educational innovation over the years. As HUC-JIR’s National Director of Alumni Engagement from 2001-2014, and Coordinator of Alumni Affairs for the Rhea Hirsch School of Education prior to that, Joy was instrumental in the creation of the Rhea School of Education Alumni Association, obtaining endowed funding for alumni continuing learning, as well as the establishment of HUC-JIR’s Alumni Leadership Council. She was an advisor and consultant to innovation projects in the Rhea Hirsch School of Education, including the Experiment in Congregational Education and Day Schools for the 21st Century. Currently serving as the Director of Jewish Learning and Leadership Initiatives at the Jewish United Fund of Chicago, Wasserman has served the Reform Jewish community as a leader, strategist, teacher, and coach for more than four decades, predominately in metropolitan Chicago and in Greater Toronto. She is also a member of the teaching faculty for the URJ’s Introduction to Judaism and Adult Hebrew programs. She has been a member of ARJE since 1981 and served on its Board of Directors for many years. She graduated from HUC-JIR’s Rhea Hirsch School of Education with a Master of Arts in Jewish Education and earned a B.A. (Honours) in Jewish Studies from York University in Toronto, Canada.

Wasserman and Novak Winer were honored at the ARJE 2024 Annual Gathering in Memphis, Tennesse in January.

To honor Rabbi Laura Novak Winer and Joy Wasserman by supporting innovation and professional development for Jewish educators through the Association of Reform Jewish Educators click here.

Novak Winer received her award in person, while Joy accepted it from afar as she was unable to attend the conference.

Novak Winer received her award in person, while Wasserman accepted it from afar as she was unable to attend the conference.