Eight communities and local organizations have been selected to participate in the first strand of a three-part, comprehensive research project addressing the recruitment, retention, and development of educators working in Jewish settings in North America, led by CASJE (Consortium for Applied Studies in Jewish Education) and conducted by Rosov Consulting. The communities represent a diversity of size, geographic location, and scope of Jewish education infrastructure. They are: Austin (Shalom Austin), Boston (Combined Jewish Philanthropies); Chicago (Jewish United Fund); Detroit (Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit); Las Vegas (Jewish Nevada); Miami-Dade (Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education); New York (The Jewish Education Project); and San Francisco (Jewish LearningWorks).

“Through our partnership with these eight communities we will gain deeper insight into the lived experiences of Jewish educators in the United States,” says Arielle Levites, Managing Director of CASJE. “This study will help us understand the many forces, including community context, that shape the career trajectories of Jewish educators.”

The local partner organizations in each community will play a critical role in the study’s first phase, known as On the Journey (OTJ), helping researchers connect with Jewish educators from a variety of sectors – including day schools, supplemental schools, youth groups, camps, adult education and more. The OTJ strand of the study will utilize a mixed-methods approach including a survey, focus groups, and individual interviews. The partner organizations also will assist researchers in getting as accurate a count as possible of the total number of Jewish educators in each community. Moreover, beyond the broader anticipated benefits to the entire North American field of Jewish education, these communities will individually benefit from the data and other information they glean about the needs of their local Jewish educators.

This research builds on a Working Paper authored by Rosov Consulting that was released earlier this year from CASJE and The George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development (GSEHD). In parallel with OTJ, the larger research project will continue with two additional strands, Preparing for Entry, which will study the career plans of people in the settings from which Jewish educators have tended to come (such as summer camps, longer-term programs in Israel, and college fellowships) to determine the factors that contribute to recruitment into the field; and Mapping the Market (MTM), which will focus on identifying available pre-service training and in-service professional development offerings for Jewish educators, as well as challenges faced by employers and training providers who are coping with personnel shortages and/or saturation.

The multi-year research project is generously funded by the William Davidson Foundation and Jim Joseph Foundation.