Constructs E-Newsletter

October 2007

Welcome to the October e-newsletter of Brandeis University's Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Steinhardt Social Research Institute, and Fisher-Bernstein Institute.

The beginning of another academic year, as well as the Jewish New Year, provides an opportunity to consider goals for our work over the course of the coming months. At the institutes, research that will further ongoing conversations in our community is already underway. This year we will publish new findings regarding U.S. Jewish population characteristics and Israel/Diaspora relations, and we will unveil a new Jewish educational database. Please see the right column for a brief description of a few of our new projects.

As always, we enjoy sharing with you some of our latest work. Two reports released this summer, "The RE-IMAGINE Project" and "Challenges of the 3rd Year: An Evaluation of Limmud NY," examine programs that encourage innovation and creativity among individuals and institutions in Jewish education.

Wishing you all peace and health in the coming year,

- Leonard Saxe, director of the Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute
- Amy L. Sales, director of the Fisher-Bernstein Institute for Jewish Philanthropy and Leadership

The RE-IMAGINE Project: Case Studies

Annette Koren, Amy L. Sales

These in-depth case studies provide portraits of three synagogues that took part in the
Experiment in Congregational Education's RE-IMAGINE Project in New York. The cases include descriptions of each congregation's organizational structure, culture, and context and reveal how these factors coalesced to affect the course and outcome of its efforts to "re-imagine" education in its religious school.

Challenges of the Third Year: An Evaluation of Limmud NY

Annette Koren, Nicole Samuel

In January 2007,
Limmud NY sponsored its third annual celebration of Jewish life and learning. Participants of all ages and diverse backgrounds spent four days immersed in educational, spiritual, and social Jewish experiences. This report describes Limmud NY and its participants and details the challenges resulting from the program's success and growth.

Kaplan Seminar

The 23rd annual Kaplan Seminar for Emerging Professionals was held this year on July 8 11 on the Brandeis University campus. The seminar, designed for outstanding professionals with five to ten years experience working in the Jewish community, enhances managerial and leadership skills and provides professionals with a rare opportunity for intensive learning and reflection.

The Kaplan Seminar for Emerging Professionals is made possible through the generosity of Edward H. and Irene Kaplan.

In the News

Recent News Stories

New Projects

  • Jim Joseph Foundation Jewish Education Database
    Researchers are developing a website that will provide academics, funders, policy makers, and educational leaders access to the Jim Joseph Foundation Jewish education database. The website is envisioned as a single public source for information and analysis related to Jewish education that will improve the accessibility, efficiency, and quality of research in the field.

  • Evaluation MASA Israel Journey
    MASA Israel Journey, a joint project of the Jewish Agency and the Government of Israel, provides Jewish young adults ages 18-30 with an opportunity to spend a semester or a year in Israel so that they may build a relationship with Israel and a commitment to Jewish life. CMJS is conducting focus groups with potential participants and their parents to learn more about the interests and decision-making processes of potential participants in MASA programs and to improve program offerings.

  • Study of birthright israel and Mifgashim
    Every birthright israel bus includes Israeli participants, usually soldiers. This study examines the nature of the encounter or mifgash between the native and overseas participants. Employing field research and survey techniques, the project is a collaboration between CMJS and researchers at Oranim College (Israel).

  • A Decade of Challenges: How the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Became a Fundraising Powerhouse

    The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is the overseas arm of the organized North American Jewish community, providing rescue, relief, and renewal to Jews in over 60 countries. This case study examines how the organization changed over the past 10 years in response to a dramatic need for increased funding to serve Jews in the former Soviet Union and major shifts in the federation system that had previously provided its principal funding support. JDC's transformation over the course of a decade into a highly successful fundraising organization provides important object lessons for nonprofits. The case draws upon archival data and in-depth interviews with JDC staff, board members, and federation executives in Israel and the United States.

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