CASJE Applied Research Fellowship Begins

Inaugural cohort and their mentors meet in DC

September 12, 2023

CASJE fellows and mentors pose for photo with the fellowship director, Dr. Bethamie Horowitz, at the first meeting

This summer, the CASJE Applied Research Fellowship program officially launched. The first of its kind, this two-year program prepares scholars in the social sciences and education to conduct applied studies in Jewish education and Jewish communal life.

The inaugural cohort of fellows, Dr. Esther Friedman, Dr. Talia Hurwich, and Dr. Tal Vaizman, 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.

“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.

In August, the fellows and their faculty mentors, Dr. Adam Cohen of Arizona State University, Dr. Jessica Hammer of Carnegie Melon University, and Dr. Yotam Shmargad of University of Arizona, met at GWU to plan their work together during the year and to deepen their understanding of the American Jewish context.

Sessions included a conversation with Dr. Michael Feuer, Dean of the George Washington University Graduate School of Education, on lessons from the National Academy of Education for the American Jewish education research enterprise; a presentation by Dr. Benjamin Jacobs, CASJE Advisory Board co-chair and program director the academic programs in Jewish education at GWU, on what we know and don’t know about American Jewish education from national and local surveys; and a panel with Rella Kaplowitz, Director of US Jewish Grantmaking at Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, Odelia Epstein, Director of the Knowledge Center at Prizmah, and Jen Zwilling, CEO of the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center, who shared their experience with and views on using research to inform practice.

The fellowship program involves several components, starting with an ongoing seminar about the challenges of applied research in the American Jewish context. To widen their methodological and conceptual reach as social scientists, each fellow apprentices with a faculty mentor. Finally, the fellows develop and carry out an applied study in conjunction with a Jewish institutional partner. In particular, as Dr. Bethamie Horowitz, CASJE’s Director of Professional Learning Communities, explained, “the fellowship program is designed to foster in fellows the capacities and orientations necessary for ensuring a more robust and successful partnerships between researchers and practitioners.

The CASJE Applied Research Fellowship is supported by the Jim Joseph Foundation. Applications for the second cohort are expected to open in the fall. Please reach out to [email protected] for more information.