Q&A with
Fieldwork 
Supervisors
 and Students
 


The following are questions asked by Hornstein and answered by fieldwork supervisors and alumni who describe their fieldwork experiences during their time in the program.

David Farbman and Herschel Singer

Gateways: Access to Jewish Education 

Herschel Singer, MA/MBA'18 (above right) did his fieldwork at Gateways in Newton, Massachusetts during the summer of 2017. His supervisor was David Farbman (above left).

Fieldwork Supervisor:
David Farbman,
 Senior Director of Education

Q: What did you know about the Hornstein Program before Herschel came on board as an intern?

I am a graduate of Brandeis University (B.A., 1990) and my sister, Debbie Rubenstein, is a graduate of the Hornstein Program (1988), so I know the program well. I haven’t had much contact with Hornstein graduates over the last several years, but when Professor Mark Rosen met with me in Winter 2017 to explore if we wanted to hire an intern from the Hornstein program, I was definitely interested.

Q: What was your impetus for accepting Herschel as an intern? (That is, were you undergoing any significant changes that made having an intern especially helpful? Or did you have special projects that benefited from some extra help?)

At the time, Gateways had recently secured a grant to engage in building our organizational capacity. One of the main pieces of work was to develop an internal evaluation system and data collection protocol. Because I am pulled in many directions and knew I wouldn’t have the time to commit to executing the full range of activities and thinking required for development of such a system, I wanted to find someone who could serve as both the implementer of tasks and, perhaps even more important, a thought partner. Luckily, Herschel was able to serve both those roles with excellence.

Q: I’ll ask Herschel about the specifics of his project and/or responsibilities, but you will be better able to tell me if, and how, his work moved the organization forward toward your goals.

Plain and simple, the project to develop an internal evaluation system would not have happened without Herschel’s input and work product. We now have a system in place and we will be a better organization for being able to systematically track our progress towards outcomes.

Q: Is there any specific advice you have for other organizations that are considering hiring a Hornstein student intern.

It is essential to hire an intern the same way you would hire for a full-time job. That is, the intern’s skills should align to the needs of the task(s) assigned. Don’t think of the intern as free labor for whatever you have to get done, but as a professional opportunity for both your organization and the intern.

Herschel Singer MA/MBA'18
Harold Grinspoon Foundation, PJ Library

Q: How did you learn about Gateways and what prompted you to do your fieldwork there?

In my first semester in Hornstein, I had an initial conversation with Professor Mark Rosen about fieldwork opportunities. Gateways had been in touch with him about potentially having someone from Hornstein for the following summer, and Professor Rosen had a hunch that I might be a good fit for what Gateways was looking for. Turns out he was right!

Q: What projects did you work on and/or duties were you responsible?

Throughout the summer and the past year, the primary project I worked on was designing a system of program evaluation across all of Gateways’ program areas, including tutoring, consulting, in-school services, B’nai Mitzvah program, advocacy and volunteering work, and their Sunday school. I worked closely with the Director of the Center for Professional Learning, Dr. David Farbman, as well as an outside evaluation consultant who was brought in for this sizeable project.

Q: How were you challenged (professionally and/or personally)?

The sheer scope of the project, creating an entirely new holistic system for program evaluation, was a significant and rewarding professional challenge. I was charged with real responsibilities, and felt that my thoughts and opinions on the best course forward were meaningfully listened to and considered. The chance to have such a positive and collaborative relationship with my supervisor was an incredibly rewarding professional experience. In large part the success of this field work was due to having a supervisor who was terrific at balancing both giving direction and being open to different approaches.

Q: By way of parting advice to current students, please review the objectives listed above and recount a fieldwork experience you had that was especially meaningful.

One of the most important experiences I got from working at Gateways was to be in a different sort of setting than I was accustomed to. My main background in the Jewish nonprofit sector has been in camping and experiential education. With this field work experience, I had the chance to be immersed in a new sort of professional environment, which highlighted for me the very different ways effective organizations can run and feel. If I can offer one piece of advice for future participants in field work, it is to try something new and different; you may just end up loving it.

Learn more about Gateways: Access to Jewish Education>>