Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies

Organizational and Leadership Development

Jewish institutions have an important role in supporting Jewish life and community. Our studies of organizational and leadership development are aimed at helping the Jewish community recognize and utilize new ideas, enact best practices, and adapt to a changing world.

How synagogues function and evolve has also been a longstanding subject of CMJS research. Hundreds of congregational evaluations have been conducted throughout the United States. Most recently, CMJS partnered with Synergy/UJA-Federation on its Thriving Synagogue project to provide measurement tools for synagogues to evaluate where they stand on various dimensions of thriving.

Leadership Development

Ezra Springboard Fellowship Report Cover


August 2022

Nicole Samuel with Micha Rieser and Benita Danzing

The Springboard Fellowship is the largest early career incubator in the Jewish community. More than 240 professionals have participated in Springboard's six cohorts since the Fellowship began in 2016. This report presents the results of the annual study of Springboard and Ezra Fellowship alumni. The annual surveys are an opportunity for understanding the long-term impact of the programs on professional development and decisions around career and leadership.

The surveys, fielded in fall 2021, included questions on employment and graduate studies, future career interests, and Jewish life and leadership. Also included were questions on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on professional decisions. Just as the world has changed since the research began in 2018, much has also changed for the Springboard program. The alumni data show the impact of the changes and the potential for program growth.

Ezra Springboard evaluation report cover


June 2021

Nicole Samuel with Micha Rieser and Rebecca Rose

The Springboard Fellowship is Hillel International’s flagship program for early career professionals. Springboard was preceded by the Ezra Fellowship for early career Jewish educators, and the two programs merged in 2018. This report presents a portrait of Ezra and Springboard alumni, who represent different lengths of time post fellowship, ranging from four months to eight years. The surveys conducted in fall 2020 asked alumni about employment and graduate studies, work history and career advancement, post-fellowship connections and activities, and current leadership positions.

Springboard Report Cover


June 2020

Nicole Samuel, Amy L. Sales, Rachel Minkin, Eliana Chapman

Springboard is Hillel International’s two-year professional development fellowship for recent college graduates. The aims of the Fellowship are to identify and cultivate emerging professionals, to motivate them to apply their talents to the Jewish sector, and to build a talent pipeline for Hillel and beyond. Bet cohort is the focus for the Springboard evaluation because it represents the Fellowship at a liminal point in its evolution—after the initial test case (Aleph cohort) and before scaling (Gimel cohort).

Early Career, Enduring Impact Report Cover


January 2020

Nicole Samuel and Eliana Chapman

In the years between 1994 and 2008, Hillel International’s Steinhardt Jewish Campus Service Corps Fellowship (JCSC) brought hundreds of recent graduates to college campuses to engage uninvolved or under-involved students in Jewish life. This research is the first systematic study of JCSC alumni and explores the Fellowship’s long-term impact.

December 2011


Amy L. Sales

The mapping project focused on Jewish education from preschool through college. The work entailed: (1) interviewing the executives of national agencies and foundations concerned with Jewish youth education; (2) studying the philosophy and delivery of Jewish education in eight communities; and (3) building a database of organizations and programs devoted to Jewish youth education at the national level and in the eight communities of our study. All total, we interviewed about 170 individuals and gathered basic descriptive information on over 5,000 programs and organizations. Mapping Jewish Education: The National Picture presented current conditions and future trends in the field. It described the role played by foundations in the development of Jewish education and suggested what a Jewish education system—comprised of agencies, organizations, federations, philanthropists and foundations—might look like. Mapping Professional Development for Jewish Educators summarized the desirable and necessary features for effective professional development and examined current opportunities available to Jewish educators. Juxtaposing the two revealed possibilities for future growth and improvement in professional development for Jewish educators.

Mapping Professional Development report cover


February 2008

Amy L. Sales, Nicole Samuel, and Annette Koren

This report describes professional development efforts in Jewish education, beginning with a list of desirable and necessary features for effective professional development in education. The report also discusses current professional development opportunities in Jewish education by sub-sector (i.e., camp, year-round informal education, Hillel, day school, congregational school, and Israel). Possibilities for future expansion and improvement of professional development efforts are proposed.



Amy L. Sales, Leonard Saxe, Joseph Reimer, Jackie Terry, Marion Gribetz, Annette Koren and Nicole Samuel

This report lays out the various roles that are and can be played by federations,foundations, and agencies to create a strong educational system for the Jewish community. It also explores various issues faced by foundations in their funding of education.


Developing the Developers report cover


April 2007

Amy L. Sales and Nicole Samuel

This report is concerned with the sources of difficulties in the fundraising profession—with its high rates of burnout, turnover, and new hires One of its goals is to document and analyze the fundraiser shortage, both in the Jewish community and in the nonprofit sector more broadly. A second goal is to understand the strategic thinking of those who have recognized the problem and begun to tackle it.



Shaul Kelner, Michael Rabkin, Leonard Saxe, Leonard, and Carl Sheingold

This report collected data from over 1,400 workers employed in almost 200 Jewish organizations, synagogues, and schools in six US communities to inform discussions of human resource policies that can strengthen Jewish organizations.

Organizational Development

Innovating JCCs Report Cover


May 2019

Amy L. Sales and Nicole Samuel

The mid-20th century Jewish community center was built on the model of a brick-and-mortar, full-service, membership-based community center. This model is increasingly out of step with today’s reality. The purpose of the Innovating JCCs study was to seek out new ideas in the field and identify ways that JCCs might break through the old model to become successful 21st century agencies.


January 2006

Mark I Rosen. Case Analysis by Amy L. Sales

All nonprofits have to manage issues related to leadership and succession, change, innovation, strategic alliances, stakeholder relations, governance, organizational design, and organizational culture. In its recent history, Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, has addressed these issues in ways that can be instructive for other organizations. This Hillel case study offers insights into the dilemmas and challenges faced by leaders of nonprofit organizations.