Release of Major Research on the Career Trajectories of Jewish Educators

August 18, 2021

It has been more than ten years since the last systematic effort to collect data about the Jewish educator workforce; in some areas of Jewish education no large-scale data have ever been collected. The CASJE Career Trajectories of Jewish Educators Study was designed to provide usable knowledge about the recruitment, retention and development of Jewish educators. Beginning July 2021 CASJE released a series of reports and briefs highlighting findings from the study.

The Career Trajectories Study is organized around four central research questions: 1, Preparing for Entry, What does it take to launch a career in Jewish education?; 2, On the Journey, What factors induce educators to stay in the field and what supports their professional growth?; 3, Mapping the Marketplace, What does the labor market for Jewish education look like? Where are personnel shortages and saturation?; 4, The Census, Estimating the number of Jewish educators in the United States workforce today

This study is animated by the belief that research-based knowledge is a critical resource in tackling complex problems in Jewish education. Insights generated through research can inform planning strategies for the field, guide philanthropic investment, and frame the design of well-conceived programmatic interventions. In this case the focus is on increasing the capacity to support Jewish educators at all stages of their careers.


Click to open each section below to read reports and insights from each section of the Career Trajectories Study.

Preparing for Entry: Fresh Perspectives on How and Why People Become Jewish Educators

Preparing for Entry is designed to understand the pathways by which people enter the field of Jewish education and identify factors that advance or inhibit launching a career in Jewish education. In 2020 CASJE published the white paper Preparing for Entry: Concepts That Support a Study of What It Takes to Launch a Career in Jewish Education, which lays out the framework and key questions that underlie this inquiry and serves as a companion to this report.

Read the final report of Preparing for Entry: Fresh Perspectives on How and Why People Become Jewish Educators

On the Journey

On the Journey is designed to elucidate the career pathways of Jewish educators, including their professional growth, compensation, workplace conditions and lived experiences. In 2019 CASJE published the white paper On the Journey: Concepts That Support a Study of the Professional Trajectories of Jewish Educators, which lays out the framework and key questions that underlie this inquiry and serves as a companion to these research briefs. On the Journey will be published as four research briefs that address career paths, professional learning, workplace environments, and compensation.

Mapping the Market: An Analysis of the Preparation, Support, and Employment of Jewish Educators 

Mapping the Market looks at the labor market for Jewish education in the United States, analyzing both supply-side and demand-side data to understand what employers look for in Jewish educators and how pre-service and professional development programs prepare educators to meet the needs of the learners and communities they serve.

Read Mapping the Market: An Analysis of the Preparation, Support, and Employment of Jewish Educators

Enjoy an interactive experience mapping the market of pre-service and in-service training for Jewish educators.

Read insights from leaders in the field on Mapping the Market:

No Going Back to the Future: The Marketplace for Jewish Educators 18 Months into the COVID-19 Pandemic

No Going Back to the Future explores how the various sectors of Jewish education were affected by the pandemic. The MTM study was focused on the labor market for Jewish educators, and that investigation helped shed light on the broader landscape for Jewish education: what employers were hoping to achieve in the face of the pandemic, what demand they anticipated for their services, and what help they expected their staff to need in order to succeed. Twelve months on from that original study, the COVID-19 pandemic was continuing to disrupt many areas of day-to-day life in the United States. It had triggered labor shortages in many sectors and a labor market phenomenon, popularly known as the “great resignation,” in which 11.5 million people were found to have quit their jobs between April and June 2021. Against this backdrop, it made sense to return to the individuals with whom we originally spoke in order to explore how the prolonged nature of this crisis has affected another year of Jewish educator recruitment and retention.

Read No Going Back to the Future: The Marketplace for Jewish Educators 18 Months in the Covid-19 Pandemic

National Census of Jewish Educators

A second round of the National Jewish Educator Census was fielded in the Summer of 2021. This is an opportunity to learn more about the size of and changes to the Jewish education workforce since 2019, collect more demographic data about Jewish educators, and refine the research team’s methods and estimates.

View findings from Year 1 of the Census 


The research questions for the Career Trajectories Study were developed as part of a “problem-formulation convening,” which is a developmental discussion involving diverse stakeholders in Jewish education. A Technical Advisory Committee made up of scholars in Jewish and general education provided guidance on the development of the study design and research instruments. Research was led by two firms with a deep understanding of the contexts in which Jewish educators work: Rosov Consulting, who conducted the research CASJE released in the Summer of 2021; and The Greenberg Team, who are conducting the National Jewish Educator Census, which will be released late Fall 2021. Research briefs and reports were reviewed anonymously by experts in Jewish and general education research, by members of the CASJE advisory board, and by practitioner-leaders. Additionally, we have solicited and are glad to share commentaries offering reflections on the study findings and pointing to further opportunities for research and practice. We are grateful to all those who, through generous partnership and critique, enrich this work and help us lay the groundwork for future study.

***Stay up-to-date on presentations and webinars about Career Trajectories on CASJE's webpage.***

CASJE welcomes you to join in this learning experience as we engage with the field to explore the implications of this important study. Here are ten key findings that are explained in greater detail (along with other findings) in the research reports:

  1. Jewish educators are mission driven, love Jewish learning, and share an abiding commitment to serving others. For many, especially those who participate in university-based pre-service programs, this sense of mission is a source of resilience in overcoming challenges they face in the field.
  2. The perceived low status of Jewish educators, the perceived parochial nature of Jewish educational settings, and limited or outdated perspectives on the kinds of work Jewish educators do, are barriers to enticing entrants to careers in Jewish education.
  3. Almost half of current Jewish educators report entering the field in response to a job opportunity rather than proactively choosing to enter the field; fewer than half of new educators have participated in formal pre-service preparation.
  4. In many sectors of Jewish education there is no clear career ladder for educators; often the only pathway to advancement is in taking on administrative work.
  5. Continuous and high-quality professional development opportunities that correlate with improved outcomes for educators are not accessible to enough Jewish educators.
  6. Although Jewish educators tend to report good relationships with supervisors, mentorship and support for ongoing professional development are generally viewed as inadequate.
  7. Most Jewish educators are dissatisfied with the compensation and benefits they receive. Female respondents are typically paid less than their male peers, and early childhood education lags in salary and benefits.
  8. The popular narrative of a personnel crisis in Jewish education is fueled by trends in the supplementary-school labor market. Programs such as camping or social justice and innovation report a large pool of talented candidates from which to recruit educators, while day schools and early childhood programs face somewhat tougher supply-side challenges.
  9. There is a lively and growing market for independent providers of professional learning, in part driven by employers who do not demand formal degree completion or certification. Independent providers generally emphasize the personal growth of the educator and relationship building skills; degree-granting university based programs emphasize professional knowledge and technical skills.
  10. The number of educators enrolled in degree-granting programs has increased during the last thirty years, a trend driven by growth in specialty programs and dependent on availability of philanthropic support.

We are deeply grateful to the sponsors of this project, the William Davidson Foundation and the Jim Joseph Foundation, for their vision, leadership, and dedication to the proposition that research-based evidence can be a vital input to the improvement of Jewish education. Their generosity brings great promise to the ideal of linking research to practice and to making us all smarter as we continue on our shared journey.

We welcome you to engage with these reports and briefs and join us in an ongoing conversation about their implications for practice, policy and future research.


Q: How did the study define "Jewish educator?"

For the purposes of this study Jewish educator was defined as paid professionals who work directly with people of any age who identify as Jews, in settings—whether virtual, brick-and-mortar, or outdoor—that aim to help participants find special meaning in Jewish texts, experiences, and associations (even if some who are engaged in these efforts may themselves use terms like “Jewish engagement” or “Jewish meaning making” to describe their work).

We identified five primary sectors within which these professionals work: (1) formal Jewish education (day schools, ECE, supplemental schools); (2) informal/experiential settings including both immersive (e.g., camp) and non-immersive (e.g., youth organizations, JCCs); (3) those involved in engagement, social justice, and innovation (e.g., Jewish Studio Project, Moishe House, OneTable); (4) communal organizations that may employ someone in a related role (e.g., scholars-in-residence at Federations or Jewish educators at Jewish Family Services); and (5) non-organizational networks and online learning (e.g., independent B’nai Mitzvah or Hebrew tutors).

All studies must include parameters for inclusion and exclusion. The CASJE Career Trajectories Study does not include: rabbis who serve exclusively in pulpit positions, university professors of Jewish studies, full-time administrators and coordinators employed in Jewish educational settings who do not have direct contact with students or program participants, and volunteers. Future studies may want to look more closely at the work and contributions of these groups to Jewish education.

Q: How did CASJE select the eight cities where some of this research was conducted?

The On the Journey survey was fielded in eight communities which were selected to represent a range of sizes of Jewish populations and include diverse geographic regions of the United States. The communities were:

  • Austin, TX
  • Boston, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Detroit, MI
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Miami- Dade, FL
  • Nassau and Westchester Counties, NY
  • San Francisco Bay Area, CA.

We revisited these eight communities for Mapping the Market to learn more about their local labor markets for Jewish educators.

Q: What review process was in place for each report within this project?

The overall study was guided by a Technical Advisory Committee comprised of experts in Jewish and general education who provided input on study design, instruments, data collection and analysis. Members of this committee include: 

  • Henry Braun, PhD – Boston College
  • Rabbi Rafi Cashman, PhD – Netivot HaTorah Day School
  • Dan Goldhaber, PhD – University of Washington
  • Miriam Heller Stern, PhD – Hebrew Union College
  • Susan Moore Johnson, PhD – Harvard University
  • Susanna Loeb, PhD – Brown University
  • Richard Murnane, PhD – Harvard University
  • Rona Novick, PhD – Yeshiva University
  • Miriam Raider-Roth, PhD – University of Cincinnati

Reports and briefs were reviewed by anonymous readers with expertise in Jewish and general education research. Additionally, each report was reviewed by the CASJE Advisory Board Stewards, Dr. Rena Dorph and Bob Sherman, as well as select CASJE Advisory Board Members. 

We are especially grateful to the educational leaders who reviewed these reports and briefs. These leaders include: Rabbi Benjamin Berger, Nina Bruder, Ilisa Cappell, Yoni Colman, Jacob Cytryn, Marion Gribetz, Dr. Alisa Rubin Kurshan, Lesley Litman, Rabbi Mitch Malkus, EdD, Yafit Shriki Megidish, Nancy Parkes, Cathy Rolland, Debra Shaffer Seeman, Dana Sheanin, Shuki Taylor, Susan Wachstock, Ruthie Warshenbrot and Adam Weisberg.

Q: How will CASJE share these reports with the field?

CASJE will make the reports publicly available beginning in July 2021 at In August CASJE will host a webinar for educational leaders with the research team from Rosov Consulting, which will be recorded and available on the CASJE website. The presentation will be followed by a series of working groups and consultations for organizational leaders at the national and metropolitan level. If your organization is interested in learning more about the study findings and the implications for your work, please contact Dr. Arielle Levites, CASJE Managing Director, [email protected].

Q: When will year 2 of the National Jewish Educator Census be complete?

The fielding period for Year 2 of the National Jewish Educator Census will close in July. Findings will be released in late Fall 2021. If your organization has not been invited to participate please fill in the contact form.

Additionally, in the Fall of 2021, CASJE will release an additional supplemental report that analyzes the effects of Covid-19 on Jewish education and a final report that synthesizes and reflects on the findings across all the study areas.