The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and the Agency for Jewish Learning, have partnered with Chicago-based Spertus College to develop a special Master of Arts in Jewish Professional Studies (MAJPS) program. Designed for working professionals, the program involves two years of local study along with two week-long campus seminars at Spertus. Currently, thirteen local Jewish communal professionals are enrolled. Pittsburgh is the first US city to host the Spertus program outside of Chicago.
Last year, the Agency for Jewish Learning approached the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh about how a partnership with Spertus could enhance the level of Jewish communal professional training in the community. With the Federation’s support, local communal agencies, synagogues and schools were invited to nominate and support their professionals to participate in this two-year accredited degree program.
The MAJPS is a new model of training that does not replicate any existing dual masters or other graduate programs. Students currently work in the Jewish communal field, and continue to work throughout their participation in the program. The MAJPS program allows Pittsburgh to substantially develop its Jewish communal leadership by bringing Masters level Jewish professional development to Pittsburgh, rather than ask these individuals to interrupt their careers to earn Jewish communal graduate degrees at a full-time institution in another city.
Now in its fourth year, the MAJPS program was conceived to meet the needs of those working in diverse organizations that serve and inform the Jewish community. Building on Spertus expertise, the program provides important grounding in classical and contemporary Jewish knowledge, combined with much-needed professional training based in the best practices of nonprofit management.
Hillel is just one of the local organizations reaping the benefits. “The Spertus MAJPS program is already having a transformative effect on our Hillel, with three of our eight staff enrolled in the program,” commented Aaron Weil, Executive Director of the Hillel JUC of Pittsburgh. “This intensive program … will allow us to keep Pittsburgh at the forefront of all the changes coming in the next few decades.”