Leonard Saxe Awarded Marshall Sklare Award

Leonard Saxe
Leonard Saxe, Klutznick Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies and director of the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University, has been awarded the Marshall Sklare Award, to be given this December in Chicago at the annual meeting of the Association for Jewish Studies.

The Marshall Sklare Award is given by the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry (ASSJ) and honors the memory of the Cohen Center's founding director. Marshall Sklare (1921-1992) is acknowledged as the "founding father of American Jewish sociology" and was the Klutznick Family Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies and Sociology at Brandeis University. The ASSJ award recognizes "a senior scholar who has made a significant scholarly contribution to the social scientific study of Jewry."  

As described by CMJS researcher Matthew Boxer, "The Sklare Award is something of a lifetime achievement award for social scientists who study the Jewish community. The award is based on four criteria:  conceptual/theoretical, methodological, public policy, and educational/pedagogical contributions to the field of Jewish social scientific research."

As a social psychologist, Saxe has brought his background in experimental social psychology to his work on contemporary Jewry. Saxe’s awareness of the importance of “total environments” focused his attention on their potential for the development of Jewish identity and the power of informal education in general. His books on Taglit-Birthright Israel and Jewish summer camps have affirmed early adulthood as a crucial developmental window and identified the potentially transformative impact of these programs.

Saxe’s methodological contributions, informed by his background in complex evaluations of social programs, involve bringing methods of rigorous evaluation research to bear on Jewish programs. As a response to debate about the size of the American Jewish community, Saxe and colleagues developed a new means of estimating the size of the American Jewish population by combining data from various surveys in a multilevel model. In addition to these research areas, his influence in the public policy arena can be seen in the debates regarding American Jewish attachment to Israel and the impact of intermarriage.

Leonard Saxe is the fourth Brandeis faculty member to receive the Marshall Sklare Award, after Bernard Reisman, professor emeritus and former director of the Hornstein Program in Jewish Communal Service, Jonathan Sarna, the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, and Charles Kadushin, distinguished scholar at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, and a visiting research professor in the Department of Sociology.