Community Studies

Research Team

Community Studies Research Group

The faculty and staff involved in community studies have extensive experience in socio-demography. The biographies of the key staff are below.

Principal InvestigatorMatthew Boxer, PhD is an assistant research professor at CMJS, SSRI, and the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program where he teaches statistics. He earned an MA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University and an MS and PhD in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where his doctoral dissertation focused on the effects of Jewish community size on Jewish identity. Boxer is a leading expert on small Jewish communities. He was an author of Jewish community study reports for Western North Carolina (2010), Buffalo (2013), Seattle (2014), Nashville (2015), and Boston (2015). He is currently writing a book that addresses the impact of Jewish community size on Jewish identity. 

Co-Principal InvestigatorLeonard Saxe, PhD is Klutznick Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies and directs the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University. He is the recipient of the 2012 Marshall Sklare Award. Professor Saxe's current research on the Jewish community involves socio-demographic studies of American Jewry and a program of research on Jewish education and its relationship to the Jewish engagement. He is the principal investigator of a longitudinal study of Birthright Israel. At the Steinhardt Social Research Institute, he is leading a program that is investigating the size and characteristics of the American Jewish population. 

Co-Principal Investigator: Janet Aronson, PhD is an associate director at CMJS and SSRI. She received her PhD candidate from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Aronson brings to the field of Jewish social science a strong background in Jewish studies along with technical training and experience. She received a BA in computer science from Barnard College along with a BA in Bible from the Jewish Theological Seminary (now List College), earned an MA in applied sociology from the University of Massachusetts-Boston and an MA in social policy from the Heller School. Aronson is a lead analyst on the Jewish community studies project, including the completed studies of Buffalo and Seattle, as well as the current studies of Greater Boston and Nashville. Her dissertation research focuses on the impact of Birthright Israel on parents of participants.

Matthew A. Brookner, MA, MPP is a graduate research associate and a doctoral student at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. He earned an MPP from the Heller School and an MA from the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program. Brown's research focuses on philanthropy education within the Jewish community—how programs and organizations work to influence the giving values of current and future donors. He is a coauthor of the 2014 Greater Seattle Community Study. 

David Manchester, MA, MPP is a graduate research assistant and doctoral student at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, where his research focuses on using social media and digital content to explore communal dynamics and individuals’ expressions of Jewishness. Manchester assists in data management and analysis. David received a BA in international relations from American University in Washington, DC and masters' degrees in both public policy and Jewish professional leadership from Brandeis University.

Micha Rieser, MA is a research associate at CMJS. He has a BA in religion from the University of Rochester and a MA from the Communication, Culture & Technology Program at Georgetown University. At CMJS, Rieser works on managing and preparing survey data for analysis and on the preparation and documentation of public use datafiles.