Learning and Leading with Resilience, Empathy And Creativity: Executive M.A. Cohort Ten in New York

Lesley Litman, Ed.D.
Director, Executive M.A. in Jewish Education

Dr. Lynn-Sachs studentsStudents in our tenth cohort of the Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education gathered together in June 2022 at the HUC-JIR New York campus for their summer institute with Dr. Lesley Litman, EMA Director, Dr. Michelle Lynn-Sachs and Dr. Kristine Garroway, Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible. The twelve students who comprise this cohort serve in a broad range of Jewish educational settings. They hail from the United States and Canada, leading change in multiple sectors of Jewish learning and engagement. They are a resilient group of leaders navigating their studies while being present for their learners and institutions during this challenging time. The Executive M.A. Program supports and advances the work of mid-career Jewish educational leaders as they imagine and implement the future of Jewish education.

With Dr. Lynn-Sachs students engaged deeply with the issues facing Jewish education in North America in 2022 culminating in the writing of a blog on a burning issue about which they are passionate. Dr. Garroway guided students as they delved into Biblical texts that speak to the current moment.

Dr. Lesley Litman, Director of the Executive M.A. Program, along with the group’s three clinical faculty mentors, guided the cohort in building a unique cohort culture through sharing each other’s talents and gifts. “The Executive MA program is a cohort-based program predicated upon relational learning. Students learned, whether in person or from a distance, with open hearts, spirits and minds, supporting and encouraging one another and their learning. They face the uncertainty of this time with grace, generosity of spirit and openness.”

Dr. Kristine Garroway shared, “Students enjoyed an afternoon out at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC where they had the chance to see the biblical text come alive. We visited the Assyrian wing where one student immediately connected the various mythological guardian bulls (the lamassu) with the cherubim guarding the ark. In the Egyptian wing students came face to face with the pharaohs associated with the Exodus. The cases displaying finds from Israel, however, held the students in rapt attention as they took in stamp seals with ancient Hebrew writing and a jar from Qumran that held one of the Dead Sea Scrolls.”

Student Reflections

Marla Aviva Bentley, the Director of Music at Temple Beth Israel in Skokie, IL: “I felt energized and inspired to learn with our two truly brilliant professors, Dr. Michelle Lynn-Sachs and Dr. Kristine Garroway. Dr. Lynn-Sachs and Dr. Garroway taught complex subjects and ideas in a compelling and engaging way. I am so grateful to have learned from them in the Executive MA program.”

Holly Krakow, the Executive Director of Makom Solel Lakeside in Highland Park, IL: “It was wonderful to experience in person learning in New York at HUC-JIR. I am grateful to have gone through the process of exploring relevant topics in the field of Jewish Education, developing a plan, while gaining the confidence to publish my Op Ed article, New financial model breaks barriers to community, engagement and education. The experience of peer reviews along with critiques from professionals in the field was a privilege.”

Ilana Mansharov, the School and Camp Program Coordinator in Temple Sinai Congregation of Toronto, Canada:  “From biblical text study to writing our own Op-Ed. From attending extraordinary prayer services to leading our own Tefillah services. The Executive MA New York Summer Institute has been a journey I enjoyed with my Cohort 10 family.  Thanks to an ensemble of professionals, my learning experience has been informative, enriching and engaging. Beyond the classroom, I got better acquainted with my Cohort 10 family and enjoyed exploring New York City and all it has to offer. Todah Rabah HUC-JIR!”

Margie Zeskind, Head of School at Temple Beth Sholom Innovative School in Miami Beach, FL:  “I was unable to join my Cohort 10 colleagues physically in New York this summer and I was uncertain how attending virtually would work. I have to say other than eating some of the best ice cream in the city together with them, I felt totally a part of the cohort learning experience. The professors and tech team constructed a system that brought me right into the learning space. The coursework was exciting and the collaborative process nourishing. I feel blessed and grateful for this meaningful learning and growing time!”

Getting to know the Executive MA Program

Executive MA students are an intrepid group of leaders navigating their studies while being present for their learners and institutions during this challenging time. The range of settings in which they serve point to their capacity to transcend boundaries and, together, make a difference for the field of Jewish education as a whole, whether in early childhood, teen education, day schools, congregational education and in communal and national agencies. Collectively they are weaving and creating a vision for the Jewish future.

Dr. Miriam Heller Stern stated, “Jewish educators today need to lead with the dispositions that are critical for today’s reality: resilience, empathy and creativity. With Jewish wisdom as their compass, the Executive MA program is advancing a new cohort of mid-career Jewish educational leaders to meet the demands of our ever-complicating landscape of Jewish living and learning. Our curriculum, mentorship and cohort experience has always emphasized these sensibilities, but they are more explicit learning outcomes than ever before.”

The Executive M.A. Program has graduated over 120 educators since its inception in 2011. Our graduates lead schools, camps, Hillels, early childhood centers, national organizations, youth engagement, and lifelong learning. The program has been a laboratory for developing graduate education at HUC-JIR that is rigorous as well as flexible and accessible for working professionals and remote learners.

Try out the EMA! Now is the time!

HUC-JIR offers an introductory 6-week online course to take a “test drive” of the Executive MA program. Inquire now about enrolling in Introduction to Jewish Educational Leadership, which will run from October 31 – December 9. Participants are invited to try on a rich fabric of educational leadership concepts, infused with Jewish texts and wisdom, and earn the first two graduate credits of the program if they apply for admission and are accepted. To learn more about the Executive M.A. Program, or to register for the course, click here or contact Lesley Litman, Ed.D., RJE, Program Director, at llitman@huc.edu.