CASJE Announces First Cohort of New Applied Research Fellowship Program

May 31, 2023

CASJE (Collaborative for Applied Studies in Jewish Education), housed at The George Washington University, is delighted to announce the inaugural cohort of its Applied Research Fellowship Program. This summer, three fellows will begin the first of its kind, two-year program, which recruits social scientists to become adept at developing knowledge-for-use in Jewish education and American Jewish life.

The fellows, all of whom hold doctorates in social science or education, bring diverse foci, including the professional development of teachers, the use of online gaming in learning, and marshaling popular culture to foster a sense of identity and belonging. The fellows will develop partnerships with Jewish organizations that share these interests in order to build collaborative research projects that address real world problems in Jewish education and communal life.

“This fellowship reflects CASJE’s commitment to expanding the pipeline of researchers positioned to conduct critical, high quality applied research in Jewish education and contemporary Jewish life and to prepare scholars to meet the research needs of Jewish educational and communal organizations,” said Dr. Arielle Levites, Managing Director of CASJE.

Currently, Jewish educational and communal leaders, funders, and policy makers seek research-based evidence that can guide practice and help frame investments. CASJE's aim is to develop and support practice-relevant research that results in knowledge that is usable, and widely shared among those on the front lines of Jewish education and communal decision-making.

The fellowship program involves several components, starting with an ongoing seminar about applied research in the American Jewish context. To widen their methodological and conceptual reach as social scientists, each fellow is paired with a faculty mentor. As a cornerstone of the fellowship, fellows will develop and carry out an applied study in conjunction with a Jewish institutional partner. In particular, as Dr. Bethamie Horowitz, CASJE Director of Professional Learning Communities, explained, “beyond the hands-on mentorship with exceptional scholars, the curriculum offers two very special and distinguishing components: a focus not only on building research skills but also the capacities and tools necessary for more robust and successful partnerships between research and practice, as well as an emphasis on preparing researchers to sensitively and skillfully gain insight into diverse American Jews, Jewish communities, and the organizations that seek to serve them.”

Applications for the second cohort will open in Fall 2023. Please email [email protected] with questions or to join our mailing list.

Fellows’ research topics and background:

Headshot of Esther Friedman

Esther Friedman, PhD

Esther Friedman’s research interests include professional development of teachers, ways to improve teaching and learning when teachers and students hold different beliefs and ideological orientations, and education across the spectrum of Orthodoxy.

Dr. Friedman, who recently completed her doctorate at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and has won several research awards during her doctoral career, brings deep experience as a Jewish educator, curricular designer, department chair, new teacher mentor and professional development provider. Professor Adam Cohen of Arizona State University will serve as her faculty mentor.


Headshot of Talia Hurwich

Talia Hurwich, PhD

Talia Hurwich will delve into design-based implementation research and examine non-traditional educational tools such as online games for Jewish communities.

Dr. Hurwich is an education researcher whose work has spanned Jewish education, STEAM, and ELA education. She recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Drexel University, evaluating a project designed to boost graduate students' creativity through interdisciplinary collaboration. Her doctoral research at NYU was about how graphic novel adaptations of classic Jewish texts bolster reader agency and autonomy, with a particular focus on gender. Dr. Hurwich’s mentor will be Professor Jessica Hammer of Carnegie Mellon University.


Headshot of Tal Vaizman

Tal Vaizman, PhD

Tal Vaizman is a social musicologist whose research lies at the nexus of popular culture, migration, and identity/community. He will be studying the ways that engaging with popular culture, especially music, serves as a means of expression, identity and belonging among Israeli Jewish youth in the USA and other American Jews.

Dr. Vaizman completed his doctorate at the University of Haifa, where he studied musicology and education. His current research includes music mentoring and personal characteristics; music in everyday life of Jewish religious women; and music in the streaming era as a cultural pillar among immigrant communities. Dr. Vaizman will be working with Professor Yotam Shmargad of the University of Arizona.


The CASJE Research Fellowship is made possible by a grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation. 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).