2012-13 Events



Monday, May 6 | A Seat at the Schoolhouse? The Organizational Context of Immigrant Parent Involvement in Two New York City Elementary Schools

Lunch Seminar with Marci Borenstein

Marci Borenstein

Drawing on 18 months of ethnographic research in two urban elementary schools, Marci Borenstein looked at how the organizational structure of the school impacts involvement. She showed how involvement is an organizational construct in which what, who, and when involvement takes place is as much about how schools are structuring opportunities for involvement and allocating educational responsibility as it is about individual families.

Marci Borenstein is director of the office of high school programs at Brandeis. She has many years of experience working with educators, youth and communities in the United States, Israel, and the former Soviet Union. Marci has a doctorate in Education from New York University where her research focused on diverse immigrant families, urban schools and parent involvement.


Wednesday, April 24 | Redefining "Context" in Education

Lunch Seminar with Philip Wexler

Philip Wexler

The paradigms for social analyses of education are changing. In his presentation, Philip Wexler explored ways to situate these new paradigms within changes in society and culture. He considered several models of change and implications for new ways of thinking about the social context of education. Philip examined what it means to “widen the margins” of social analysis and bring this to bear on the question of education in society. His talk was informed by his work at the intersection of social theory, sociology of education and religious mysticism.

Philip Wexler was the 2012-2013 Charles R. Bronfman Visiting Professor in Jewish Communal Innovation in the Hornstein Program in Jewish Communal Service. He is professor of Sociology of Education at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and serves as the Bella and Israel Unterberg Chair in Jewish Social and Educational History.

His recent publications include: Mystical Interactions: Sociology, Jewish Mysticism and EducationSymbolic Movement: Critique and Spirituality in Sociology of Education; and Social Theory in Education. He is currently working on the relationship between social theory and mystical traditions, particularly Jewish mysticism and, relatedly, on Hasidism and education.


Monday, March 11 | The Contribution of David Hartman to Jewish Education

Lunch Seminar with Ari Ackerman

Ari Ackerman examined one of the most significant cultural trends in contemporary Israeli society: the resurgence of engagement with Jewish texts and religiosity among circles of secular Jews. He placed particular emphasis on examining the educational philosophy of David Hartman. Hartman's philosophy developed during a period of renewed interest among secular Israeli Jews in their cultural heritage and it can be viewed as attempting to fortify, deepen and direct this educational-cultural movement.

Ari Ackerman is a lecturer at Schechter Institute in Jerusalem where he teaches Jewish thought and educational philosophy. He received his Ph.D. in Jewish philosophy from Hebrew University. He is the author ofThe Sermons of Zerahia Halevi Saladin(Ben Gurion University Press, 2012) and has published articles on various aspects of modern and medieval Jewish thought and philosophy of Jewish education. He is also the academic director of the educational leadership program for the TALI schools.


Sunday, March 3 | Silence: A Form of Classroom Participation -- Fifth Annual Teacher Forum

Kathy SchultzEach year, the Mandel Center Teacher Forum presents the work of an innovative educational thinker to an audience of educators and educational leaders from Jewish and general education.

The 2013 Teacher Forum featured Professor Katherine Schultz, dean of the Mills College School of Education.

Learn more about Kathy Schultz and the Teacher Forum.


Monday, February 25 | Orthodoxy and Pluralist Jewish Education: Possibilities and Incompatibilities

Lunch seminar with Michael Gillis

Michael GillisSome argue that pluralism and pluralistic Jewish education pose distinct problems for Orthodoxy. In this lunch seminar, Michael Gillis guided us through some of the issues by making use of the quite differing perspectives of Jonathan Sacks and Avi Sagi. We discussed how even where there are possible philosophical solutions, educational solutions can remain a challenge.

Michael Gillis is a member of the faculty of the Melton Centre for Jewish Education at the Hebrew University. His work is concerned with the ways in which different paradigms of reading rabbinic literature can be a resource for teaching and curriculum. He also teaches and writes in the field of the philosophy of Jewish education. He is the co-editor of a forthcoming volume on pluralism and Jewish education. Michael is a visiting scholar at the Mandel Center in spring 2013.


Monday, December 10 | Using Literacy Assessments to Inform Instruction in the Elementary School

Lunch Seminar with Shoshana Jacobs

Shoshana Jacobs

At this lunch seminar, Shoshana Jacobs took a close look at literacy assessment in elementary school. Participants were guided through a variety of assessment possibilities in reading and writing and looked at how we can use assessment data to inform and enrich teaching and learning.

Shoshana Jacobs is a literacy coach at the Conservatory Lab Charter School in Boston. She has been a classroom teacher and literacy coach for the last nineteen years in public, private and charter schools.  She launched her career as a classroom teacher in the New York City Public Schools. After several years, Shoshana was selected as a mentor teacher under the auspices of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University. During her time with the Project, she worked with many literacy leaders, including Lucy Calkins, on the craft of Reading and Writing Workshop. After moving to Boston, Shoshana began coaching teachers, helping them enrich their literacy practices. She worked in several Boston Public schools and in private school before joining the CLCS staff in 2009.


Monday, November 19 | Pluralism Expanded: Teaching Judaism as a World Religion

Lunch Seminar with Professor Joseph Reimer

Joe Reimer

The Genesis Program at Brandeis University offers an experiential-based course called "World Religions," which views Judaism as one of the world religions and invites students to consider the similarities and differences among several religions as they are practiced locally. This past summer Professor Reimer was able to observe the course from the perspective of its co-teachers. He explored questions about how we interpret "pluralism" and what it means to invite high school students on a tour of the worship sites of these several world religions.

Joseph Reimer is an Associate Professor in Jewish Education who splits his teaching and advising time between the Education and Hornstein Programs. He also serves as faculty advisor to the Office for High School Programs at Brandeis. Trained at Harvard as a developmental psychologist, he currently focuses his research on experiential Jewish learning, Jewish camping, and the professional development of educators. His book, Succeeding at Jewish Education, won the National Jewish Book Award in 1997. His recent publications have focused on leadership in Jewish summer camps.


Monday, October 22 | Career Commitments of Jewish Day School Teachers: Findings from Two Longitudinal Surveys

Lunch Seminar with Eran Tamir and Sally Lesik

Eran Tamir and Sally Lesik presented four profiles of Jewish day school teachers, focusing on factors that explain their commitments to day school teaching and Jewish education. They drew on data from a comprehensive sample of JDSs teachers from the Educators in Jewish Schools Study (EJSS) and the DeLeT Longitudinal Survey. They explained how they developed distinct teacher profiles (looking particularly at teachers'  personal motivations, background variables, and school conditions) and discussed what can be learned from the comparison of DeLeT and EJSS teachers about the potential value of teacher preparation programs like DeLeT. Finally, they discussed the implications of these findings for Jewish day schools and teachers and for other stakeholders in the field.

Eran Tamir is a senior research associate at the Mandel Center and lecturer in education at Brandeis University. A sociologist and an educational policy analyst, his research focuses on the social context of educational policy, teacher certification policy, program evaluation, teacher careers, teacher professionalism in religious and urban public schools, and the politics of education reform.

Sally A. Lesik is a professor of Mathematical Sciences at Central Connecticut State University.  She holds bachelor's degrees inEngineering from the University of Hartford, and in Mathematics from Trinity College.  She also holds two master's degrees: one in Statistics from Yale University, and one in Mathematics from Wesleyan University.  Her doctorate is from Harvard University, with specializations in quantitative research methods and education.  Her research interests involve applying new and innovative statistical methods in educational research.


Sunday, October 14 | Tenth Anniversary Colloquium and Celebration

We celebrated the Mandel Center's 10th anniversary with a colloquium and festive dinner celebration. The colloquium explored the response A Time to Act, the 1990 report of the Commission on Jewish Education in North America, considered more recent innovations in Jewish education, and considered questions for the future.

> More about the Mandel Center's 10th anniversary


Monday, September 24 | The Baby with the Bathwater: Evaluating a National Jewish Early Childhood Project

Lunch Seminar with Susan Shevitz

Professor Shevitz based her presentation on an evaluation she conducted with Heller School professor Lawrence Bailis of JECEI (the Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative). It looked at some promising findings about the effect of the initiative on young families as well as on early childhood education staff and settings and considered reasons why, despite these findings, the program was not continued.

Susan Shevitz is professor emerita at Brandeis University where, for over twenty years, she taught in and then directed the Hornstein Program in Jewish Communal Service (now Jewish Professional Leadership). Her research and teaching focus on organizational culture and change,leadership, and pluralism in Jewish life. She currently works with a wide range of Jewish organizations, including major foundations, schools, synagogues and agencies to help them plan, implement and/or evaluate innovative programs. She teaches in the JTS executive doctoral program and at the rabbinical school of Boston’s Hebrew College. The constant in her career has been bridging the worlds of Jewish educational practice and research by helping educators make use of research findings and by conducting research that takes seriously the complexities of practice.