Amy L. Sales, PhD
Associate Director and Senior Research Scientist
Professor Amy L. Sales is associate director and senior research scientist at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University and associate professor in the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program. Trained as a social psychologist, she conducts research on Jewish institutions and their role in creating Jewish life and community and teaches courses on Jewish identity.
In her 20 plus years at Brandeis University, she has conducted research on an array of Jewish institutions and has led a number of major research initiatives. Many of her studies have centered on Jewish education, Jewish summer camps, religion on the college campus, and synagogues.
Her studies in Jewish education include the evaluation of The Re-Imagine Project, an initiative to bring innovation to congregational schools. As the architect of JData (www.jdata.com), a website and database for Jewish education, she has helped create metrics and a system for tracking the organizational health of Jewish schools and camps. As JData’s Principal Investigator she produces annual reports on the status of overnight camps, day schools, and congregational schools and develops reports for local communities that are using JData for planning, allocations, and grant making.
Since 2000, she has led a program of research on Jewish overnight camps that has looked at Jewish life, Jewish learning, and Israel and Israel education at camp. She is the co-author (with L. Saxe) of the seminal book on overnight camps, How Goodly Are Thy Tents: Summer Camps as Jewish Socializing Experiences.
She was the Principal Investigator on a national study of Jewish life on college campuses. She is the author (with L. Saxe) of Particularism in the University: Realities and Opportunities for Jewish Life on Campus.
Her synagogue-based work, comprised of in-depth studies in over 100 congregations throughout the United States, has focused primarily on how synagogues evolve and change. She was Principal Investigator on a program of research for Synagogue 2000. She studied the impact of family education on the synagogues in Greater Boston and efforts within congregations in New Jersey to make synagogues more attentive to the needs and interests of their elder members. She has conducted congregational surveys in various settings and is currently evaluating the impact of Connected Congregations, an effort to create new forms of congregational community in New York. She co-edited (with G. Tobin) Church and Synagogue Affiliation: Theory, Research and Practice and has written on the future of the synagogue and religious denominations.