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The Executive M.A. in Jewish Education :  Developing the Right Mindset

06/04/2020 02:10:49 PM


This May - after more than two years of part-time study -  I completed the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) Executive Master’s Program in Jewish Education. The program’s goal was not just to fill the minds of participants like myself with Jewish learning and examples of best Jewish educational practices but rather to develop within us the mindset to become true Jewish educational leaders.  As the author Warren Bennis once wrote, “... The leader innovates… the leader develops. … The leader has a long-range perspective. The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why. The manager has an eye on the bottom line; the leader has his eye on the horizon. Managers do things right; leaders do the right things.”[1]  During the program, we developed educational visions for our institutions, studied the process of change and developed skills to begin implementing these visions in our institutions – all with the aim of strengthening our potential as educational leaders.

How fortuitous it was that most of the Executive M.A Program was completed through distance learning. Our Executive Master’s program required pre-course assignments (readings, videos, questionnaires, etc.), individual and group assignments completed asynchronously and small group live sessions with professors. When Covid-19 disrupted our lives in March, this experience in distance learning was invaluable as I was able to transfer our CJL Hebrew School to an online format with first-hand knowledge of best practices in distance learning.

There were thirteen participants in our cohort of the Executive M.A. Program and we came from all parts of the country. It was so interesting to learn about the different models and programs of supplemental Jewish education and to reflect on whether these models would fit our institution.  With so much uncertainty about the future, I am very grateful to have spent two and a half years studying and working with these colleagues so that in this unusual circumstance we can together continue to collaborate on best education practices for our institutions.

The program strengthened my knowledge and skills as a Jewish educator and helped me develop tools to become an educational leader.  Looking ahead, I hope to now implement what I have learned to transform and enrich the CJL, motivated by the words of Dr. Lesley Litman, Director of the HUC – JIR Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education,

“The innovative (educational) model of today is not, and should not be, the same model tomorrow….We must also develop the mindset and capacity for continuous reflection, and refinement.” [2]





[1] Warren Bennis, quoted in Cherie Carter-Scott, "The Differences between Leadership and Management," Manage, November 1994, p. 12.


Thu, June 30 2022 1 Tammuz 5782