Small Grants Program


Small Grants Program



The CASJE Small Grants Program supports studies of Jewish educational processes and outcomes. These grants are intended to stimulate research that investigates Jewish education and its effects, and that is well-positioned to inform practice. Small grants are especially well suited for small-scale, exploratory studies that look closely at educational processes or well-defined phenomena.

Previous Small Grants projects have investigated learning across the wide variety of settings where Jewish education happens and focus on learners of any age across the lifespan.

Learn more about our previous Small Grant Awardees:


2023 Awardees


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.

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 This research will shed light on how a community and its local education leaders can partner to update the outdated and often unfavorable perception of the work of a Jewish educator to invite a more diverse group of potential educators to the field.

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.

See the 2023 RFP     


2019 Seed Grant Awardees


Leaders Exploring Race, Equity and Privilege in Jewish Day Schools

  • Dr. Meredith Katz, Jewish Theological Seminary
  • Dr. Abigail Uhrman, Jewish Theological Seminary
  • Dr. Jeffrey Kress, Jewish Theological Seminary

As conversations about race, equity, and privilege have become more commonplace, schools are coming to examine their role vis-à-vis these topics. Jewish day schools may face particular challenges in this arena. They serve a limitedly diverse population. There can be a tension between attention to in-group Jewish diversity and participation in the broader society. Efforts to address these issues are, or can be, embedded within other discussions about Jewish values and identity, and also call upon school leaders to engage with definitions and legacies of race, equity, and privilege in determining their educational approach. In addressing these myriad factors, school leaders must hold a mirror up to their own beliefs and motivations before they are able to lead any meaningful initiative. Through interviews, observations, focus groups, and artifact analysis, our study seeks to uncover day school leaders’ thinking about race, equity, and privilege and explore how they frame these issues in their school and school communities.

Jewish Attachment to Israel Survey Instrument

  • Yehonatan Abramson, Tel Aviv University
  • Alon Yakter, Tel Aviv University
  • Anil Menon, University of Michigan

The sense that young American Jews have a weaker connection to the state of Israel has become a heated topic of late. The distancing of younger generations has particularly challenged contemporary Israel education, which seeks to maintain this long- standing relationship while accommodating intergenerational differences. Yet, despite growing academic interest, our understanding of generational differences and their responsiveness to different messages on Israel remains incomplete. Do different depictions of Israel resonate differently across generations, and if so, how? The proposed research will examine this question by reanalyzing existing surveys and conducting an original survey experiment to gauge generational differences regarding Israel and their receptiveness to different narratives about the country. The project will provide a novel and rigorous methodological tool to study the distancing of young American Jews from Israel, assess the effectiveness of different pedagogical frames, and initiate a broader theoretical debate on collective memories, generational changes, and diasporas.

See the 2019 RFP    


2018 Awardees


Exploring How Preschool Children (3-4 years old) in Jewish Early Childhood Settings Think about Israel

While much communal attention is focused on how teens and young adults think about Israel, this study will address the very youngest learners in the Jewish community, asking “How do preschool children think about and understand Israel?” As this question is crucial for both scholarship and practice, this project is designed as a unique and powerful practitioner and researcher partnership. Researchers will create a developmentally-appropriate research protocol using group interviews, elicitation/provocation exercises, and teacher documentation. Early childhood practitioners from three Jewish early childhood centers will be trained to use it to uncover the ways that their students think about Israel. Multiple rounds of coding and analysis will allow both practitioners and researchers to shape and reflect on the analysis before findings are shared in both practitioner and scholarly venues.

Hebrew Education in Supplementary Schools

This study will investigate how Hebrew is taught and perceived at American Jewish supplementary schools. Which types of Hebrew (Liturgical, Biblical, Modern) and which skills (decoding, recitation, conversation) are emphasized? Phase one is a survey of 250+ school directors around the United States, focusing on rationales, goals, teaching methods, curricula, and teacher selection. Phase two involves classroom observations and stakeholder surveys at 10 schools with diverse approaches. Researchers will first determine how teachers teach, use, and discuss Hebrew and how students respond. Researchers will then survey students, parents, clergy, and teachers about their rationales, goals, and perceptions of their program. This project represents a collaboration among researchers and practitioners committed to theorizing how Hebrew is and might be approached in American Jewish educational institutions. Understanding this will enable future interventions to better align goals and methods among educators, congregations, and families, thereby strengthening diaspora Hebrew education.

What are the Terms of Engagement? Israel-based Gap Year Programs as Sites for Investigating Israel Education for North American Jews

  • Dr. Bethamie Horowitz, New York University
  • Joshua Krug and Amanda Winer, Ph.D. Students in Education and Jewish Studies, New York University

Israel-based programs for North American Jews in their gap year between high school and college are a significant locale for Israel education, but one that has not received much scholarly attention. Because the programs are situated in contemporary Israel for a period of 9 months, they function as sites of Israel education in ways that are hard to replicate in North American settings. This project will investigate the educational conceptions of two such programs—The Young Judaea Year Course, and the Kivunim Program—with particular attention to their formulations of how and why young American Jews are expected to relate to current day Israel, and how these ideas play out in practice. At a time when there are many questions about the nature of the relationship between American Jews and Israel, this inquiry will provide a window for examining educators’ views about what 21st century “Jewish citizenship” could or should entail for the rising generation of North American Jews.

See the 2018 RFP     


2017 Awardees


Mapping Hebrew Education in Public Schools: A resource for Jewish Educators

This study will examine Hebrew language programs at charter schools and at regular public schools, estimated to instruct approximately 6,000 students in 35 programs across the U.S. Until now, research has focused on the teaching and learning of Hebrew in Jewish day schools and informal Jewish educational contexts. However, significant growth over the past decade in the number of Hebrew language programs (HLPs) at schools across the country, and especially in Hebrew charter schools, warrants new research attention. Understanding how Hebrew language learning is conceptualized in these settings, how they appeal to Jewish and non-Jewish learners, and what instructional methods are used, will enable educators to gain a fuller picture of Hebrew learning outside of Jewish settings.

What Can Teacher Research Offer Jewish Education? 

This study will explore teacher research as a way to promote teacher leadership. Hassenfeld will document the efforts of a newly formed Teacher Research Group—teachers conducting research on their own practice—as they form a community of teacher researchers and support each other in the conduct of research in their own classrooms. Hassenfeld’s study, conducted in partnership with the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis University, will explore the outcomes of this experience for teacher researchers, their students, and their leadership within the school. He will examine the process through which teachers generate systematic knowledge that contributes to the field of Jewish education and will examine teacher research as a possible avenue for the development of teacher-leaders.

Enduring Dilemmas: The Pathway from Competent Administration to Inspired and Inspiring Leadership

  • Lesley Litman, EdD, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
  • Michael Zeldin, PhD, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

This study will explore the capacity of educational leaders in Jewish schools to distinguish between problems to be solved and dilemmas to be managed. Through a series of interviews with Jewish educational leaders, Litman and Zeldin will examine how senior personnel understand enduring dilemmas in their roles and their leadership practices, and how mastery of a range of strategies to address these dilemmas contribute to their perceptions of their capacity to be effective leaders. Jewish educational leaders face a steady stream of challenges, some of them requiring immediate responses and others calling for careful deliberation. This study addresses how educational leaders identify these dilemmas and manage them in complex and creative ways.