News & Events

Why CASJE - Lauren Applebaum

June 21, 2016

Lauren Applebaum is a facilitator, consultant, and lecturer on professional learning for educators in Jewish and general education.  Formerly the Associate Dean at the Graduate Center for Education at American Jewish University, she currently teaches courses in pedagogy and reflective practice at AJU as well as at Hebrew College.  Prior to her work in Los Angeles, Lauren served as Executive Director of Kesher Newton, a nationally-recognized innovative supplementary education program in the Boston area.  She is certified as a Critical Friends Coach by the National School Reform Faculty and trained as a professional development leader by the Mandel Teacher Educator Institute. An alumna of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Williams College, Lauren received her doctorate in education at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where her dissertation explored professional learning and collaborative reflective practice for Israel educators.

I didn’t set out to be a Jewish educator. I stumbled into the field by accident, by virtue of meeting some incredible educators working to apply what they knew about children and about learning to afterschool Jewish education.  As I grew as a practitioner in the field, I continued to be inspired by this project of pursuing excellence in Jewish education driven by deep knowledge of teaching and learning. I was energized by the idea that the most interesting ideas and discussions in the world of education could offer guidance to me, a young teacher experimenting and growing Jewishly alongside her fourth graders.  As I became a leader and started to train other young educators, I began to ask harder questions of my own practice and studied for a master’s degree, sometimes accidentally stumbling across bodies of research that asked the same questions that kept me up at night.  How can I help teachers grow?  How can I know what my students understand?  What makes our school community strong?  I began to wonder what sort of guidance I might offer in my own right. How could I join the dialogue?  Ultimately, I pursued a doctorate in order to engage in my own educational research and add my voice to the conversation. 

I believe in CASJE – and am proud to be serving on the board – because I believe in the vibrant possibilities that arise when practitioners and researchers hear each other asking important questions about Jewish education. When the larger field comes together to engage in conversations that are research-based, practice-driven, and guided by powerfully urgent, intellectually rich questions, the entire field of Jewish education is strengthened.

I believe that CASJE’s commitment to bringing applied research to life and sharing the fruits of that research will help the next generation of educators add their voices to the conversation and to the field of Jewish education – not by accident, but because they are drawn to the vibrant world of discovery and exploration that it offers.