Faculty Notes

Photo of group of professors and students

L-R: Prof. Len Saxe, Beth Lesch '15, Yana Tolmacheva '13, Prof. Mark Rosen, David Manchester '15 at Boston's Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Spring 2014

Photo of Matt Boxer

Hornstein faculty member and Cohen Center researcher, Matt Boxer

The Hornstein faculty are a unique group of academicians and practitioners brought together with one common goal: to train the next cadre of Jewish professional leaders.

Some are primarily researchers, bringing the benefits of history and data analysis into the classroom; others are practitioners in the field, infusing real-life experience into their teaching and advising. All are in a position to significantly influence the Jewish community's deliberations on the pressing issues of the day through books, articles, research, public presentations, and, most importantly, through teaching and advising.

Click on the faculty member names below for more information about activities over the last year.

Visit our faculty webpage for biographies and contact information.

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Matt Boxer


Defended doctoral dissertation, Jewish Identity on All Frontiers: The Effect of Jewish Community Size on Jewish Identity, in the sociology department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Boxer, M., Aronson, J.K., Davidson, J., & Aitan, E. (2013). The 2013 Greater Buffalo Jewish Community Study. Waltham, MA: Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Brandeis University.

Boxer, M. (2013). Revisiting "The non-linear impact of schooling": A first step toward a necessary corrective. Sociological Papers, 17, 53-66.

Saxe, L., Tighe, E., & Boxer, M. (2014). Measuring the size and characteristics of American Jewry: A new paradigm to understand an ancient people. In U. Rebhun (ed.), The Social Scientific Study of Jewry: Sources, Approaches, Debates (pp. 37-54). New York: Oxford University Press.

Boxer, M. (2014). Empiricism vs. polemicism: A response to the Sklare Lecture. Contemporary Jewry, 34, 15-20.

Boxer, M., & Saxe, L. (Forthcoming). The Birthright Israel Generation: Being a Jewish young adult in contemporary America. To appear in L. Greenspoon (ed.), Studies in Jewish Civilization: Proceedings of the Twenty-Fifth Annual Symposium of the Klutznick Chair in Jewish Civilization – Harris Center for Judaic Studies. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press.


Sales, A., & Boxer, M. (2013, December 16). Community size: The unnoted variable. Paper presented at the 45th annual conference of the Association for Jewish Studies, Boston.

Boxer, M. (2013, June 25). Young American Jews and Israel: The relationship's trajectory. Paper presented at the 29th annual conference of the Association for Israel Studies, Los Angeles.

Koren, A., & Boxer, M. (2013, June 25). Learning about Israel on campus: Student response to courses about Israel. Paper presented at the 29th annual conference of the Association for Israel Studies, Los Angeles.

Rachel Fish

Lectures and Papers

Presented paper at AIS 2013 conference in UCLA on "Transformations of Bi-nationalist Idea."

Traveled to O.P. Jindal University in India and presented paper “From Zionism to Post-Zionism” December 2013.

Presented to Brandeis Speech and Debate Society about “US involvement in Peace Negotiations between Israel-Palestine” March 2014.

Public Presentations

Taught Israel Seminars at NewBridge on the Charles July-August 2013 and February-March 2014

Presented to iACT CJP coordinators “Israel on Campus” August 2013

Presented to JCRC Social Changers cohort- presented lecture on History of Zionism and Israeli society November 2013

Presentation to students at Northeastern University on “Israel on Campus” November 2013

Presented to group of Israelis as part of Boston-Haifa connection “Israel and Diaspora Relations” December 2013

Presented to Reconstructionist Hevruta in Newton Center on “Prospects of Peace- Two States or One State” February 2014

Attended and presented at Jewish People Policy Institute meeting March 2014- rebuilt connection with Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat


Article forthcoming in Israel Studies about Bi-nationalism and the Transformation of the Idea. This article was presented at the Zionism in the 21st Century conference at Brandeis University.

Writing an article in edited volume about Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement ed. by Carey Nelson

David Mersky

David presented a series of programs at BNY Mellon in their Nonprofit Client Conferences:

  • Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards
  • Exceeding Your Fundraising Goals

He also recently gave a free webinar, Is Your Board on Board: Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards, focusing on the core responsibilities of the board—both individually and collectively—with special emphasis on motivating board members to engage wholeheartedly in the agency's fundraising and development programs.

Joe Reimer

In the early years of the Genesis Program – which is the first of the Brandeis summer programs in Jewish experiential learning for high school students – I served as the advisor to the faculty of the major courses. In my last summer of doing that, 2001, I helped to start a new course in teaching World Religions, which featured the question of how do we as Jews learn about and relate to other religions.

I was so taken by this course that I requested from Bradley Solmsen, the director, to switch my role to become a participant observer in the course. I did that in 2002, enjoyed it, wrote about it, and put it away.

Then, in 2012, Dvora Goodman, the Hornstein alumna who had become the director of Genesis, asked if I would join her to help document that very course which was still being taught. Of course the faculty had changed and the details of the course had evolved. But I was intrigued to revisit that course to see how it had developed over that decade. The results are written up in my latest article, called "No Religion is an island: Teaching World Religions to Adolescents in a Jewish Educational Context" that appeared in the Journal of Jewish Education, volume 79, number 4. My bottom line is this: World Religions is a highly significant topic for Jewish adolescents when it is taught by thoughtful educators who have clear goals in mind. That is the case in Genesis, but may not be so in many other Jewish educational contexts.

Mark Rosen

Mark continues to be in demand around the country as a speaker and panelist for his research on family engagement. In the past year, he spoke at the following conferences and venues:

  • Fifth Annual PJ Library Conference sponsored by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, April 2013, Reistertown, MD
  • Covenant Foundation, June 2013, New York, NY
  • Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, July 2013, Skokie, IL
  • Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, November 2013, West Hartford, CT
  • URJ North American Biennial, December 2013, San Diego, CA
  • Jewish Educators Assembly, January 2014, Atlanta, GA
  • Jewish Funders Network, March 2014, Miami, FL

Mark is currently involved in two research projects, a national study of the post-college impact of Chabad on Campus sponsored by the Hertog Foundation, and a study of preschool decision-making among families in Greater Boston sponsored by CJP.

Amy Sales


Sales, A., & Boxer, M. (2013, December 16). Community size: The unnoted variable. Paper presented at the 45th annual conference of the Association for Jewish Studies, Boston.


“Where Data Meets Action: Using research to strengthen Jewish day schools and overnight camps.” Network for Research in Jewish Education Conference. New York, NY, June 4, 2013. With Ari Kelman, Mark Gold, Sharon Haselkorn, and Abby Knopp.

“New Road to Engagement.” Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs International Convention. Boston, MA, July 26, 2013.

“Planning by the Numbers.” Workshop at JCamp 180 Annual Conference. Springfield, MA, November 3, 2013. With Nicole Samuel.

“Tracking Numbers: Use metrics to grow your camp numbers.” Presentation at JCamp 180 Annual Conference. Springfield, MA, November 4, 2013. With Jodi Sperling.

Keynote Address. Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership Commencement. Chicago, IL, November 4, 2013.

“Trends in the World of Jewish Youth: Are we making or riding the wave?” URJ North American Camping Retreat. Springfield, MA, November 1, 2013.

“Nonprofit Practices: What we are doing and what we could, should, or wouldn’t do…and why.” URJ North American Camping Retreat. Springfield, MA, November 1, 2013.

“What Do the Data Really Say?—Challenge your notions of the Jewish community.” Presentation at Limmud Boston. Chestnut Hill, MA, December 8, 2013. With Len Saxe.

“The Power of Personal Meaning: Mapping Success in Experiential Jewish Education.” Panelist at a communal forum organized by Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future. New York, NY, December 9, 2013.

“Data Drives the Creation of a Field.” Talk at the New Day Camp Director Workshop organized by the JCC Association. New York, NY, December 10, 2013.

“Community Size: The unnoted variable.” Association for Jewish Studies 45th Annual Conference. Boston, MA, December 16, 2013. With Matthew Boxer.

“Plumb the Data: What we know about small schools.” Ravsak/Pardes Jewish Day School Leadership Conference. Los Angeles, CA, January 19, 2014.

“Questions We Ask and Stories We Tell: Using data to enhance the planning process.” Jewish Federations of North America Professional Institutes. Palm Beach, FL, February 11, 2014.

“Dashboard Data è Strategic Conversations.” Yeshiva University/Schechter Day School Network iJED (Innovation in Jewish Education) Conference. Uniondale, NY, March 3, 2014.

“Future of Reform Judaism.” Panelist on culminating session of the lecture series on Reform Judaism past and present at Temple Emanu-El. New York, NY, May 12, 2014.


Sales, A.L. (2014, Spring). Give a boy a hammer [on Pew Survey]. Contact, 16(1),15.

Jonathan Sarna

Awards and Honors 

Honored April 3, 2014 with the 2014 Brandeis University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean's Mentoring Award. [read more]

Elected president of the Association for Jewish Studies. [read more]

Elected fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society. [read more]

Book Chapters

Sarna, Jonathan. "Jews and the Civil War." Passages Through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War. Ed. Jonathan Karp. New York: AJHS/Yeshiva University Museum, 2014. 9-29.

Sarna, Jonathan. "’To Quicken the Religious Consciousness of Israel': The NFTS National Committee on Religion, 1913-1933." Sisterhood: A Centennial History of Women of Reform Judaism. Ed. Carole S. Balin et al. Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 2014. 49-71.

Sarna, Jonathan. "Colonial Judaism." Cambridge History of Religions in America. vol. 1 Ed. Stephen J. Stein. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. 392-409.

Book Reviews

Sarna, Jonathan. "Book Review." Rev. of Antisemitism: A History, by Albert S. Lindemann and Richard S. Levy. Journal of American Ethnic History vol. 32 2013: 119-121.

Edited Books

Sarna, Jonathan with Carole Balin et al, ed. Sisterhood: A Centennial History of Women of Reform Judaism. Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 2014.

Encyclopedia Entries

Sarna, Jonathan and Jonathan Golden. "Judaism." World Book Year Book 2013. 2014.

Journal Articles

Sarna, Jonathan. "Lewis Feuer and the Study of American Jewish History." SOCIETY 50. (2014): 352-355.

Magazine Articles

Sarna, Jonathan. "History: Barbara Goodman, Unheralded Hero." Reform Judaism 14-18.

Sarna, Jonathan. "Letter from Boston: People of the Silver Linings Playbook [on Pew Survey]." Hadassah 10-12.

Newspaper Articles

Sarna, Jonathan. "At Battle of Gettysburg Jewish Heroes Fought for Both North and South." Forward July 1, 2013


Sarna, Jonathan. America’s Russian-Speaking Jews Come of Age. Jerusalem Jewish People Policy Institute: 2014.

Len Saxe

Book Chapters

Fishman, S., Shain, M., & Saxe, L.. "What Happens on the Bus? Community Impacts Jewish Engagement on Taglit-Birthright Israel." Formal and Informal Jewish Education: Lessons and Challenges in Israel and in the Diaspora. vol. 17, 2012-2013 Ed. Remennick, L.. Sociological Institute for Community Studies, Bar-Ilan University, 2013

Saxe, L., Tighe, E., & Boxer, M.. "Measuring the Size and Characteristics of American Jewry: A New Paradigm to Understand an Ancient People." Studies in Contemporary Jewry. vol. 27 Ed.

Rebhun, U.. New York - Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. 37-54.

Edited Journals

Saxe, L. & Dellapergola, S, ed. Contemporary Jewry: Special Issue on Jewish Demography in the United States. 33 2013.

Electronic Articles

Saxe, L. "Ten Takeaways from Pew." eJewishPhilanthropy November 21, 2013. (2013)

Journal Articles

Saxe, L. (2014, Spring). Can the Pew findings guide philanthropic investment in the Jewish community? Contact, 16(1),7.

Shain, M., Fishman, S., Wright, G., Hecht, S., & Saxe, L.. ""DIY" Judaism: How contemporary Jewish young adults express their Jewish identity." Jewish Journal of Sociology 55. 1 (2013): 3-25.

Saxe, L., & Tighe, E.. "Estimating and understanding the Jewish population in the United States: A program of research." Contemporary Jewry 33. 1 (2013).

Saxe, L., DellaPergola, S.. "Introduction: Special Issue on Jewish Demography in the United States." Contemporary Jewry 33. 1 (2013).

Boxer, M., Aronson, J.K., & Saxe, L.. "Using Consumer Panels to Understand US Jewry." Contemporary Jewry 33. 1 (2013).

Koren, A., Aronson, J.K., & Saxe, L.. "Teaching Israel at American Universities: Growth, Placement and Future Prospects." Israel Studies 18. 1 (2013): 158-178.

Saxe, L & Chertok, F.. ""AAA" Guide to Developing and Using Knowledge to Drive Jewish Communal Policy." Journal of Jewish Communal Service 88. 1/2 (2013): 120-127.

Newspaper Articles

Saxe, L. "Pew Findings Reject Bleak Narrative of Jewish Decline." Forward (The Jewish Daily) October 11, 2013


Saxe, L. "American Jewry: Understanding the Pew Narrative." Invited Speaker, Gershman Y. Philadelphia, PA. November 21, 2013.

Saxe, L., Session Chair. "Social Change, Social Action and Social Justice: Concerns among American Jews." Eastern Sociological Association. Boston. March 21, 2013.

Saxe, L. "From Tourist to Citizen: Taglit-Birthright Israel and North American Jewish Young Adults." Klal Yisrael: Seventh International Symposium. Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel. January 8, 2013.

Saxe, L. ""Pew's Jews": A Portrait of American Jewry." Limmud Miami. Miami, FL. March 23, 2014.

Saxe, L. "Creating Community and Engaging the Next Generation of Reform Jews." Keynote speaker, South Area Reform Congregations. Chayai Shalom, Easton, MA. March 28, 2014.

Saxe, L. "Engaging Men (and Women) in Contemporary Jewish Life: What We Can Learn from he Pew "Portrait of U.S. Jewry"." Invited Speaker, Temple Aliya. Needham, MA. March 22, 2014.

Saxe, L. "American Jewry: Demographic and Social Trends." Ruderman Israel Journalism Fellows. New York. July 23, 2013.

Saxe, L & Sasson, T.. "The Impact of Taglit-Birthright Israel on the Political Views of Trip Participants." Association for Israel Studies. University of California at Los Angeles. June 24, 2013.

Saxe, L. "Portrait of American Jewry: Understanding the Pew Narrative." Jewish Agency for Israel. Jerusalem, Israel. November 5, 2013.

Saxe, L. "Will Your Grandchildren Be Jewish: The Future of American Jewry." Invited Lecture, "Wisdom of Scholars" series. Lenox, MA. July 12, 2013.

Saxe, L. "The Future of Liberal Judaism: Learning from the Birthright Generation." Invited Lecture, Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation. Reston, VA

Saxe, L & Sales, A.. "What Do the Data Really Say? Challenging Your Notions of Jewish Community." Limmud Boston. Newton, MA. December 8, 2013.

Saxe, L. "Pew's "Portrait of Jewish Americans": Ensuring a Vibrant Jewish Future." Massachusetts Board of Rabbis. Newton, MA. December 9, 2013.

Saxe, L. "Portrait of American Jewry: Understanding the Pew Narrative." Synagogue Council of Massachusetts. Newton, MA. January 26, 2014.

Saxe, L. "The Taglit-Birthright Israel Generation Comes of Age." Taglit-Birthright Israel: An Academic Symposium, Jerusalem, Israel. Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. June 12, 2013.

Saxe, L. ""WYSIATI": The Challenge of Engaging the Birthright Israel Generation." American Jewish Press Association. University of Washington, Seattle, WA. June 26, 2013.

Saxe, L. "Rigorous Evaluation and its Role in Jewish Education." Jewish Educational Tourism: Multiple Origins, Paths and Destinations. Oranim College, Tivon, Israel

Saxe, L. "Who are the Jews of the United States? Assessing their Size and Characteristics." World Congress of Jewish Studies. Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. July 28, 2013.

Saxe, L. "The Jewish Future in America:Tradition, Peoplehood and Religion." Renaissance Conference. Charleston, SC. December 30, 2013.

Saxe, L. "Do Methods Matter? Drawing Valid Conclusions from Studies of Contemporary Jewish Life." Association for Jewish Studies. Boston, MA. December 16, 2013.


Tighe, E., Saxe, L., Magidin de Kramer, R., & Parmer, D.. American Jewish Population Estimates: 2012. Waltham, MA Steinhardt Social Research Institute, Brandeis University: 2013.

Saxe, L., Fishman, S., Shain, M., Wright, G., & Hecht, S.. Young Adults and Jewish Engagement: The Impact of Taglit-Birthright Israel. Waltham, MA Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Brandeis University: 2013.

Koren, A., Samuel, N., Aronson, J.K., Saxe, L., Aitan, E., Davidson, J.. Searching for the Study of Israel: A Director of Courses about Israel on U.S. College Campuses 2011-12. Waltham, MA Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Brandeis University: 2013.

Koren, A., Samuel, N., Aronson, J. K., Saxe, L., Aitan, E., Davidson, J.. Searching for the Study of Israel: A Directory of Courses about Israel on U.S. College Campuses 2011-12. Waltham, MA Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Brandeis University: 2013.


Saxe, L. "Howard Gardner: The Ethical Theorist." MIND, WORK, AND LIFE: A Festschrift on the Occasion of Howard Gardner's 70th Birthday. Ed. Kornhaber, E., & Winner, E.. Cambridge: Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2014 (forthcoming)

Sasson, T., Shain, M., Wright, G., Hecht, S., & Saxe, L.. "Long-Distance Nationalism? The Impact of Taglit-Birthright Israel on the Political Attitudes of Participants." Nationalism and Ethnic Politics (2014). (forthcoming)

Boxer, M. & Saxe, L. "The Birthright Israel Generation: Being a Jewish Young Adult in Contemporary America." Who Is A Jew? Reflections on History, Religion, and Culture. Ed. Greenspoon, L.. Omaha: Creighton University Press, 2014 (forthcoming)

Saxe, L. "Reflections on the Science of the Social Scientific Study of Jewry: Marshall Sklare Award Lecture." Contemporary Jewry 34. (2014). (forthcoming)