People

Leonard Saxe
Leonard Saxe
Klutznick Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies
Director, Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute
781-736-3952 Lown Center for Judaica Studies, 320

Leonard Saxe 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 is a social psychologist, as well as a methodologist, and is concerned with the application of social science to social policy issues. His present focus is on religious and ethnic identity and specifically addresses issues relevant to the Jewish community.

Janet Aronson
Janet Krasner Aronson, PhD
Associate Director
781-736-2348

Janet Krasner Aronson, PhD is the associate director of the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University. She earned her PhD in social policy at the Heller School for Social Policy at Brandeis where she examined the impact of Birthright Israel on the parents of the participants. Janet's primary research areas include local Jewish community studies, and she has directed studies in Boston, Washington, DC, Palm Beach County, FL and Cincinnati. She also teaches in the Hornstein Program for Jewish Professional Leadership at Brandeis, where she runs the Myra Kraft Seminar on Israel. She is interested in studying emerging trends in Jewish engagement, which present both methodological challenges for researchers as well as substantive challenges for community organizations.

Prior to joining CMJS, she worked as a computer programmer, a graphic designer and religious school teacher. She was a member of the first cohort of the Barnard College/Jewish Theological Seminary double-degree program, in which she earned bachelor's degrees in computer science and Bible. She has an MA in applied sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Masha Sud Lokshin
Masha Sud Lokshin, MBA
Assistant Director
781-736-2314

Masha Sud Lokshin is the assistant director at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute. She is responsible for the administrative coordination of the institutes and manages budgets, personnel and office administration, as well as communication with other campus departments and outside collaborators. Masha holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Brandeis University and an MBA from Bentley College. Prior to coming to CMJS, she worked in the financial and consulting industries. She is a native Russian speaker. In addition to her language abilities, she brings knowledge of Russian culture and history and organizational expertise to the institutes.

Ilana Friedman
Ilana Friedman
Senior Program Administrator
781-736-2060

Ilana Friedman is the senior program administrator at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies. Originally from Palo Alto, California, Ilana graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Curry College magna cum laude where she majored in communication and concentrated in theatre. While at Curry College, she held several leadership positions on campus, including president of Hillel.

Allyson Birger
Allyson Birger
Research Specialist

Allyson Birger is a research specialist at the Cohen Center for Modern
Jewish Studies assisting the Birthright Israel team. She received her
BA from Tufts University in 2022 in sociology, concentrating in data
analysis and interpretation. At Tufts, she conducted her senior honors
thesis examining Jewish youths’ understanding of early-age
socialization efforts at summer camps. Allyson's research interests
include identity formation, the sociology of religion and culture,
social psychology, and the US educational system. In her free time,
she enjoys reading, painting, cooking, exploring Boston and its
surroundings, and spending time with her family and friends.

Matthew Boxer
Matthew Boxer, PhD
Assistant Research Professor
781-736-3968

Matthew Boxer is an assistant research professor at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute. He earned a Master of Arts in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University and a Master of Science 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. His research varies widely and includes the socio-demography and social psychology of the Jewish community, altruistic behaviors and preferences, Israel studies, formal and informal Jewish education, and antisemitism. He is a member of the National Advisory Board of the Center for Small Town Jewish Life at Colby College.

 

Matthew Brookner
Matthew Brookner, PhD
Associate Research Scientist
781-736-3855

Matthew Brookner is an associate research scientist at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and Steinhardt Social Research Institute. At CMJS and SSRI he is the lead data analyst on Jewish community studies. In addition to Community Studies, Matt has coauthored needs assessments of interfaith couples, working women, and households in poverty.

Matt completed his PhD at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, where he wrote his dissertation on philanthropy education. He holds masters' degrees in both public policy and Jewish professional leadership from Brandeis, and has a bachelor's degree in classics and history.

Deborah Grant
Deborah Grant
Managing Editor
781-736-3947

Deborah Grant received her BA from Brandeis University and her JD from Northeastern University. She edits and oversees production of CMJS print and digital publications.

Mark Grinberg
Mark Grinberg
Web Developer
781-736-2928

Mark Grinberg is a web developer at the Cohen Center for Modern Judaic Studies. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and International and Global Studies (with honors) from Brandeis University. His honors thesis, which examined the internet and terrorism, was entitled "Flash Drive Terrorism." While at Brandeis, he interned at the Israeli Consulate in Boston and was a manager of the LTS Help Desk, where he supervised and provided tier one support to the community.

Shahar Hecht
Shahar Hecht, MA
Associate Research Scientist
781-736-3948

Shahar Hecht is an associate research scientist at CMJS. She received a joint bachelor's degree in psychology and business administration from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she also received an master's degree in criminology. At CMJS, she is the project manager for the Birthright Israel evaluations and the Jewish Futures Project. She has worked on the evaluation of Birthright Israel international programs and on a study of Israelis who participate in Birthright Israel. In addition to Birthright Israel projects, she has contributed to numerous other studies, including a study of Jewish young adults on college campuses and an evaluation of the needs of Nazi victims.

 

Alex Lee
Alex Lee
Web Developer
781-736-3956

Alex Lee is a web developer at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies. He spent seven years working at an educational travel company, managing the codebase for all web-related projects. During the past two years, he worked on a web application for a pharmaceutical company and learned about the various challenges of clinical trials and bringing new medicines into the market.

Marcella Magerer
Marcella Magerer
Executive Administrator

Marcella Magerer comes to CMJS from Boston’s Combined Jewish Philanthropies where she was the Executive Administrator to Barry Shrage. At CMJS, she continues to provide administrative, professional and project support to Barry Shrage (Professor of the Practice in the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program and Initiative for Jewish Identity, CMJS). She also serves as liaison to CMJS and Hornstein staff members and coordinates work and work products of Barry Shrage with Hornstein and CMJS staff.

Raquel Magidin de Kramer, PhD
Raquel Magidin de Kramer, PhD
Associate Research Scientist
781-736-3953

Raquel Magidin de Kramer is an associate research scientist at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute. She is currently working on the Jewish demography project.

Raquel has extensive experience in educational research and statistical analysis. Prior to joining CMJS, she worked as a research associate at the Center for the Study of Testing, Evaluation and Educational Policy housed at Boston College, and as a statistics and computer analyst at the Henrietta Szold Institute for Research in the Behavioral Sciences in Israel. She has also worked as a software engineer in the private sector for several years. She received a joint BSc in Education and Atmospheric Sciences as well as an MA in Education from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She received her PhD from the department of Research Measurement and Evaluation at Boston College. She is fluent in Spanish and Hebrew.

Joshua Mandell
Joshua Mandell
Research Specialist

Joshua Mandell is a research specialist working on the American Jewish Population Project. Originally from Missouri, he graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in history and anthropology. His academic interests include world social history, archival studies, and information science. He is a member of the American Jewish Population Project research team.

Adam Martin
Adam Martin
Research Specialist

Adam Martin is a research specialist. He received his BA from Boston College in 2020 with a degree in political science and economics. His honors thesis examined the effects of state funding formulas on identification of students with disabilities and special education outcomes. He is interested in data analysis, elections, and education policy. His hobbies include traveling, writing, golf, and watching Survivor. At CMJS, he is part of the community studies team.

Daniel Nussbaum
Daniel Nussbaum, MA/MPP
Research Associate
781-736-2422

Daniel Nussbaum is a research associate at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute. He provides data management and analysis for various research projects, including the population project, the Jewish electorate, COVID-19 impact, and local Jewish community studies. He completed his BS in psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and then earned an MA in Jewish Professional Leadership and a Master of Public Policy from Brandeis University in 2020. While in graduate school, Daniel also worked as a data analyst intern at Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, where he developed a COVID-19 partner impact survey and an interactive data dashboard of past community study data.

Antero Ortiz
Antero Ortiz
Web Developer
781-736-2966

Antero Ortiz is a web developer at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and supports technical aspects of various projects. He received a Bachelor of Science cum laude in Computer Science with a minor in Applied Mathematics from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Micha Rieser
Micha Rieser, MA
Research Associate
781-736-2374

Micha Rieser is a research associate at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Religion from the University of Rochester and a Master of Arts from the Communication, Culture and Technology Program at Georgetown University.

After receiving his undergraduate degree, Micha participated in the joint Israeli Antiquities Authority and University of Rochester run archaeological excavation of the town of Yodefat in the Galilee. 

Prior to joining CMJS, Micha worked for Alley Cat Allies,  an animal advocacy and protection organization, collecting and analyzing survey and scientific data to be used in policy efforts directed at the reform of the animal control system in the United States. This work included several national surveys and an article on survey findings published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

He manages and analyzes data for the community studies project. He also analyzes data on Birthright Israel applicants and participants for the Birthright Israel research project.

Nicole Samuel
Nicole Samuel, MA
Associate Research Scientist
781-736-3951

Nicole Samuel is an associate research scientist at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University, where she has worked since 2005.  She currently leads the ongoing evaluation of Hillel International’s Springboard Fellowship, the movement’s flagship program for early career professionals. Other recent work includes Advancing Jewish Retreating and Innovating JCCs.

Her portfolio includes Jewish institutions and organizations, formal and experiential Jewish education, and Jewish identity. With Amy L. Sales, she has conducted several studies of Jewish life and Israel education at overnight camp, including Limud by the Lake Revisited: Growth and Change at Jewish Summer Camp. Other previous projects include research on professional development in Jewish organizations, teen engagement in New York, and synagogues and synagogue change.

She received her MA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Women's Studies from Brandeis University in 2005, concentrating in Contemporary Jewish Life.  She earned a BA in History magna cum laude from American University in Washington, DC.

Barry Shrage
Barry Shrage
Professor of the Practice, Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program
Initiative for Jewish Identity, CMJS/SSRI
781-736-2313 Lown 213a

One of America’s foremost Jewish leaders, Barry Shrage served for the past 30 years as president of Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston and as a powerful voice on the American Jewish communal scene. He is known in Boston and throughout the world for his tireless support of Jewish education; his promotion of engagement by religious and nonreligious Jews; his commitment to working for social justice at home and abroad alongside others; his strong support of Israel; his bridge-building, outreach and engagement with the non-Jewish community in creative partnerships; and for his boundless energy and creativity.

Elizabeth Tighe
Elizabeth Tighe, PhD
Research Scientist
781-736-3824

Elizabeth Tighe is a research scientist at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Carnegie-Mellon University and a doctorate in social/developmental psychology from Brandeis University.

She has been an instructor at Wellesley College and a visiting assistant professor in psychology at Brown University, where she taught courses in Research Methods and Experimental Design & Statistics for doctoral students.

Prior to joining the SSRI, she had been a research associate and senior Research associate at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, where she was also an instructor/lecturer for graduate courses in Research Methods and Applied Multivariate Statistics.

Her research interests are in social identity, particularly religious and ethnic identity and their relationship to civic identity and intergroup relations. In addition to basic research in motivation and attitude structure and change, she has studied community programs as part of a national evaluation of community-based substance abuse reduction programs funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Recent work has included the design and administration of a web-based survey to assess the role of religion in the lives of college students as part of the Jewish Life on American College Campuses: Realities and Possibilities project funded by the Avi Chai Foundation and the Jewish Life Network. In addition, she was co-investigator and co-author of Jewish Elderly Nazi Victims: A Synthesis of Comparative Information on Hardship and Need in the United States, Israel, and the Former Soviet Union and Assessment of Methods to Quantify Neediness among Jewish Nazi Victims In RE: Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation.

Currently in her position at the SSRI, she is a co-investigator and project director for a research synthesis of national U.S. surveys that assess religious and Jewish identity.

Sasha Volodarsky
Sasha Volodarsky, MA
Research Associate

Sasha Volodarsky is a research associate at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies. He is a PhD candidate in political science at Northeastern University. He received his BA from Tel-Aviv University and MA from the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya Israel. Before he joined CMJS, Sasha worked as a researcher at Clalit in Israel and the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute for Applied Research. At CMJS, Sasha's research focuses primarily on the evaluation of Birthright Israel. He has co-authored a number of reports about the impact of Birthright, including reports about the Birthright trips from North America as well as trips from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Germany. Sasha also co-authored several academic papers on topics including antisemitism, the impact of Covid-19 on students' mental health, and the effectiveness of online education. He is fluent in Russian, Ukrainian, and Hebrew. 

Dalia Wassner
Dalia Wassner, PhD
Associate Research Scientist
Director, "Jews of the Americas" Initiative, CMJS
781-736-2994

Dalia Wassner, PhD is the director of “Jews of the Americas,” an initiative of Brandeis University at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies. Dr. Wassner is a historian whose research and teaching is dedicated to providing more inclusive and interdisciplinary approaches to the Jewish Diaspora and broadening the academic fields of Jewish Studies, Latin American Studies, and Diaspora Studies. 

Dr. Wassner is the author of Harbinger of Modernity: Marcos Aguinis and the Democratization of Argentina (Boston: Brill, 2014), which illuminates the intersecting roles of Jews and public intellectuals in bringing democracy to post-dictatorship Argentina. She is guest-editor of the launching issue of the journal Latin American Jewish Studies (Spring 2022), and her scholarship has been published in numerous academic journals, including Latin American Research Review, Iberian and Latin American Studies, Contemporary Jewry, and Modern Jewish Studies. Dr. Wassner serves on the Latin American Jewish Studies Association Board of Directors, the Jewish Women's Archive Encyclopedia Editorial Board in the field of Latin America, and the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry Board of Directors. 

 

Graham Wright
Graham Wright, PhD
Associate Research Scientist
781-736-2134

Graham Wright is an associate research scientist at the Steinhardt Social Research Institute and the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies. He received his PhD and MPP from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.

Graham has published articles on American political attitudes and political theory in the journals Political Behavior and The Journal of Public Deliberation, articles on survey methodology in the journals Survey Practice and The Journal of the International Association for Official Statistics, and has co-authored a number of articles related to Israel attitudes and Jewish life in Contemporary Jewry, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, and The Jewish Journal of Sociology.

His work at CMJS primarily focuses on the ongoing evaluation of Birthright Israel and studies of US undergraduates. He teaches classes in quantitative design and analysis, survey research methods, and multilevel modeling at the Heller school.

His other research interests include American public opinion and ideology, social science research methods and epistemology.