CASJE Awards New Grants to Support Practice of Jewish Education

August 31, 2023

CASJE (The Collaborative for Applied Studies in Jewish Education) at the George Washington University announced three grants for research projects focused on the practice of Jewish education. The grants, ranging from $10,000 up to $36,000 each, were selected from proposals submitted in response to an open call. The winning projects cover different aspects of Jewish education including educator recruitment, what Jewish children think about their worlds, and a cross-national analysis of Jewish educational outcomes. The projects will be completed by the end of 2024 and will be shared broadly with the field.

The grant recipients and their projects are:

Dr. Lauren Applebaum, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and Dr. Sivan Zakai, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Learning and Teaching about What Matters to Jewish children

What issues in the contemporary world matter most to Jewish children, and how do children make sense of these issues? How do educators make sense of children’s ideas and their implications for the work of Jewish education? These are the central research questions of a qualitative study designed as a collaboration among researchers, Jewish children enrolled in both day and supplementary schools, and their educators. Drawing from interviews, storytelling exercises, and think-alouds with children, as well as interviews and collaborative investigations with educators as they examine the data from children, the study situates the ideas of both children and their educators as central to the work of Jewish education. The study seeks to develop new knowledge about how contemporary Jewish children make sense of what it means to live in these extraordinary times, and how their educators make sense of what it means to teach in them.

Dr. Kathy Schwartz, Jewish LearningWorks and Mindy Gold, EdtechMMG

Sensemaking and the Image of Today’s Jewish Educator

Growing the pool of potential Jewish educators requires a more inclusive and representational picture of who a Jewish educator is and what their role might be. Beginning with photovoice, a community-based action research methodology, this study invites diverse education stakeholders to co-construct a vignette of today’s Jewish educator and to identify and test action steps for applying the vignette to communal recruitment strategies. Qualitative interview analysis will explore how stakeholders, including but not limited to educational leaders, make sense of a collaboratively constructed image of a Jewish educator to support local recruitment. This research will shed light on how a community and its local education leaders can partner to update the outdated and often unfavorable perception of the work of a Jewish educator to invite a more diverse group of potential educators to the field.

Dr. Adina Bankier-Karp, Brandeis University and Dr. David Graham, Institute for Jewish Policy Research

A secondary analysis on the impact Jewish educational interventions on Jewish identity outcomes in English speaking countries

This quantitative study seeks to address what measurable impact Jewish educational interventions have on Jewish identity outcomes. Drawing on the most recent national Jewish community studies from five English speaking countries, the study aims to identify the current suite of formal and informal educational programs, develop constructs representing a rich tapestry of contemporary Jewish identifications, and test the relationships between them. Modes of analysis that the project will employ include: cross-tabulations; means comparisons; factor analysis and latent class analysis; scale development; and regression analysis including bivariate, multivariate, and logistic. Additionally, investigators will address the limitations of using existing national-level studies as tools for studying Jewish educational outcomes and offer recommendations for the design of future national-level studies, to better position them to produce more useful data.


“CASJE was fortunate to receive a diverse array of high-quality proposals in this competitive RFP process” says Dr. Susan Kardos, co-chair of the CASJE Advisory Board and Chief Strategy & Advancement Officer at the Abraham Joshua Heschel School in New York City. “These three projects address critical areas in Jewish education, and CASJE is very pleased to support the researchers in this important work. CASJE aims to promote high quality and useful new knowledge in and for the field of Jewish education, and we are confident that these three projects will do just that.”

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CASJE’s mission is to improve the quality of knowledge that guides Jewish education practice and policy. Its process to develop research is highly collaborative, bringing together scholars, educators, and policymakers to identify areas of focus, formulate critical researchable questions and frame evidence-based interventions. CASJE is housed at The George Washington University in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Core operations are supported by grants from the Jim Joseph Foundation and Crown Family Philanthropies.

CASJE’s Advisory Board includes co-chairs Dr. Benjamin M. Jacobs (GW) and Dr. Susan Kardos (Abraham Joshua Heschel School); members Dr. Henry Braun (Boston College), Dr. Rena Dorph (Lawrence Hall of Science), Dr. Charles “Chip” Edelsberg (formerly of the Jim Joseph Foundation), Dr. Gage Gorsky (Stanford University), Dr. Heather Hill (Harvard University), Dr. Sharon Feiman-Nemser (Brandeis University), Dr. Michael Feuer (GW), Dr. Ellen Goldring (Vanderbilt University), Dr. Ari Kelman (Stanford University), Adam Weisberg (Urban Adamah), and Dr. Tali Zelkowicz (Wexner Foundation); and Advisory Board chairs emeritus Dr. Lee Shulman (Stanford University) and Rabbi Mitch Malkus, Ed.D. (Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School).