Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership

The Mayberg Center was created to advance community-based scholarship in the field of Jewish education and leadership, particularly in the arenas of pedagogy, identity, and literacy. The Center will convene academics and practitioners in critical conversations about the Jewish future, catalyze research and provide graduate level training for Jewish educators and certificate program opportunities for professionals working in Jewish non-profits.

Housed in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development (GSEHD), renowned for connecting research to practice and education to the larger community, the Center will become a vibrant laboratory for teaching, learning, and educational engagement. Through interdisciplinary studies and in collaboration with GSEHD’s graduate program in Experiential Education and Jewish Cultural Arts, the Center will explore important links between evolving theories of teaching and learning and formal and experiential education.

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Mayberg Center Staff
Dr. Erica Brown
Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership
(202) 994-8372

Dr. Erica Brown is an associate professor of curriculum and pedagogy at the George Washington University's Graduate School of Education and Human Development and the director of its Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership. She also consults for non-profits and serves as the community scholar for The Jewish Center in Manhattan. She previously served as the scholar-in-residence for The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, where she directed its Jewish Leadership Institute. She also held that position at the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston. Dr. Brown was a Jerusalem Fellow, is a faculty member of the Wexner Foundation, an Avi Chai Fellow, winner of the Ted Farber Professional Excellence Award, is a recipient of the 2009 Covenant Award for her work in education and the 2012 Bernie Reisman Award (Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program, Brandeis University). She lectures and writes widely on subjects of Jewish interest and leadership.

Dr. Brown is the author of 12 books including her most recent, Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet. She writes a monthly column for the New York Jewish Week and London's Jewish Chronicle and has blogged for JTA, Psychology Today and Newsweek/Washington Post’s “On Faith” and tweets on one page of Talmud study a day @DrEricaBrown. Access her articles at

Rebecca Weisman
Rebecca Weisman
Project Director
Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership
(202) 994-8895

Rebecca Weisman is the Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership's project director. Weisman develops professional development programs for practitioners bringing research and best practices to the front lines of Jewish education and leadership. She also oversees the Center’s operations and special events.

Weisman has more than two decades of experience in Jewish education and leadership in day schools, congregational schools, camps, youth groups, and community-based educational nonprofits. She consults and facilitates trainings on educational innovation, student retention, and change initiatives. Most recently, she worked at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School as the middle school principal. In previous years she served as the youth and teen programs director for the Washington Metro area’s central Jewish education agency and as executive director of the Jewish Youth Philanthropy Institute, a nonprofit recognized by both the Catalogue for Philanthropy and Slingshot.

Weisman earned an MS in Education from The Johns Hopkins University and a BA in Journalism-Public Relations and Sociology from the University of Maryland, College Park.

You can contact her at or 202-994-8895.

Upcoming Events

Inspired Communication: How to Say It and Write It Better

Monday, April 16, 2018 • 10:00 am - 4:00 pm at GW

This workshop is facilitated by Dr. Erica Brown and other GW faculty and staff

Explore Jewish texts, leadership literature and reflective exercises to...

  • strengthen your leadership presence
  • speak in public with poise
  • write with clarity and purpose

This workshop is for early career professionals with up to 5 years of work experience and all Jewish communal professionals who would like to strengthen their communication skills.

The $50 registration fee includes book, supplies and light refreshments. You are eligible for a $10 discount if you work for a JPRO Network affiliate or if you are a JPRO individual member.

Registration Link Coming Soon! Questions: Contact Rebecca Weisman at

2018 Research Conference on Jewish Education

June 11-12, 2018

The Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership is pleased to be co-hosting the 2018 joint annual research conference of the Network for Research in Jewish Education (NRJE) and the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry (ASSJ). The conference will take place on the campus of GW from June 11-12, 2018.

The NRJE and ASSJ conference, chaired by Dr. Erica Brown, will feature papers, panels and discussions covering a wide range of topics in Jewish education. We are enthusiastic about collaborating with the conference planning team including the program chair, Rabbi Dr. Scott Aaron, as well as Dr. Benjamin Jacobs, Visiting Associate Professor at GW’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development, who is NRJE’s board chair.

We look forward to welcoming Jewish education scholars, practitioners, policymakers and philanthropists to GW. For more information about the conference, please visit the conference website.

Click for the Fall 2017 Newsletter

Center Successes

Connecting Children to Their Spiritual Selves with Rabbi Dr. Howard Deitcher

The Mayberg Center was honored to host Rabbi Dr. Howard Deitcher from Hebrew University in Jerusalem for a range of professional development workshops on topics including the possibilities and challenges of Jewish spiritual education and emerging challenges in day school education.

On December 6-7, 2017, Dr. Deitcher engaged with a variety of professionals including day school heads, Jewish educational leaders in schools and congregations and GW professors and graduate students. He also facilitated several sessions at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Jewish Early Childhood Educator Conference, as well as a learning session for parents on spirituality in young children.

One camp educator noted that she valued “the opportunity to think about creative expression related to tefilah (prayer) and spirituality.” A day school principal shared that she “enjoyed every minute and so appreciated the two hours spent thinking about spirituality in Jewish Education with so many diverse practitioners; what a welcome window of reflection that was!” A veteran congregational education director expressed similar sentiments, “This was a great workshop! Dr. Deitcher was very professional and very aware of the audience.”

How Are We Doing? Better Teacher Evaluations

One of the goals of the Mayberg Center is to provide high quality professional development for educators and nonprofit professionals, locally, regionally and nationally. To that end, while many people were sitting on beaches in early August 2017, a group of day school heads and administrators sat in the Berman Hebrew Academy boardroom to engage in learning with Kim Marshall, a former teacher, principal, and district official in the Boston Public Schools. Marshall, who currently consults with schools all over North America on educational leadership practices, focused his presentation and discussion on effective teacher evaluation.

Marshall challenged administrators from the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Berman Hebrew Academy and Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School to create spot assessments, what he calls mini-observations, and do them frequently. He shared his comprehensive rubric evaluation of teachers and the best way to give face-to face feedback. In the process, he showed a video of a teacher mid-lesson and asked the group to make their observations about what was effective and less effective in practice. He ended the day with a smaller session for school heads to take the rubric he shared and apply it to the evaluation of their principals. Feedback from the day showed it to be a valuable contribution in terms of learning, integrating new methods of assessment and bringing local professionals together in conversation.

When Israel is Your Classroom: JWRP Educational Assessment

At the end of June, hundreds of women toured Israel through a Jewish Renaissance Women’s Project Momentum (JWRP) trip. JWRP’s mission is to inspire women to transform themselves, their families and their communities.To that end, the international organization partners with 143 organizations in 26 countries and has sent over 11,000 women to Israel.

Erica Brown accompanied this group to observe and evaluate their educational offerings. Brown’s findings on the educational materials, the facilitation and the learning components of the trip were shared in a comprehensive report with their senior professionals, trip leaders and the head of the JWRP board and have already resulted in changes to the educational content and the preparation of its facilitators.

We are honored that the Mayberg Center has been able to contribute to the body of work studying immersive experiences. This form of learning continues to prove to be both inspiring and educationally transformative. Examples of academic evaluations on immersive experiences informing the field include: “Taglit-Birthright Israel: Impact on Jewish Identity, Peoplehood, and Connection to Israel” by Leonard Saxe, Theodore Sasson and Shahar Hect; “Triangulation and Mixed Methods Design: Practicing What We Preach in the Evaluation of an Israel Experience Educational Program” by Leonard Saxe, Theodore Sasson, Shahar Hect, and Charles Kadushin; Brandeis University’s study, “A Mega- Experiment in Jewish Education: The Impact of Birthright Israel”; Chaye Kohl’s, “To March or Not to March: Reflections on March of the Living”; and “March of the Living, a Holocaust Educational Tour: Effect on Adolescent Jewish Identity” by Alan Nager, Phung Pham and Jeffrey Gold.

Educating for Responsibility

In the fall of 2017, Erica Brown presented the first in a series of lectures for the Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital Scholars’ Forum on the Book of Jonah and his aborted escape from responsibility for its new middle school cohort. Brown has consulted with the middle school since the inception of the Center and finally got a chance to work with its students.

To honor the students’ personal experiences and understand the kind of responsibilities, she asked them to write their answers to a few important life questions: Is there a commitment they are running away from or have run away from in the past? Do they think leaders can escape from responsibility? What conversation might they have internally when confronting a daunting task?

They then explored the first two verses of Jonah and asked some central text questions about why Jonah ran from God and what he might have been thinking when trapped in a large fish belly. To help them think about this visually, they looked at an etching of the artist Gustav Dore capturing a moment when Jonah looked back at the fish that just spewed him out with wonder, amazement and trepidation.

Students shared their own anxieties and fears and how they might confront and overcome them, integrating the art, the text study and the reflective questions. The study session was conducted in the spirit of social, emotional and visual learning, bringing multiple lens’ to ancient texts.

Click for the Fall 2017 Newsletter

Conversations that Matter

The Limits of Civil Discourse - 2018 featuring Jeffrey Goldberg and Moshe Halbertal

Education, Integrity and Leadership - 2017

The launch for the Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership, housed in George Washington University's GSEHD - Graduate School for Education and Human Development, featured this powerful conversation on "Education, Integrity and Leadership" between N.Y. Times columnist, David Brooks and Leon Wieseltier, the Isaiah Berlin Senior Fellow in Culture and Policy at the Brookings Institution. The conversation was moderated by Dr. Erica Brown, director of the new Center and associate professor at GSEHD.

The Mayberg Center will provide graduate level training for Jewish educators, certificate programs for Jewish non-profit professionals and a platform to bridge the Academy and community for high-level conversations on contemporary Jewish issues.

Leadership Education Conference

Re-Imagining Jewish Leadership Education Conference

Conference Agenda
Conference Registrant Bios
On March 15, 2017, the Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership brought together a select group of academics, educators and conveners of Jewish leadership programs to discuss the state of Jewish leadership education in North America and what can be done moving forward to deepen its reach and impact. Many legacy non-profits and Jewish start-ups have invested heavily in leadership training both for volunteer lay leaders and professionals. We met to share observations and think critically about the content, pedagogy, duration and format of such courses to maximize their effectiveness.
Invited Participants:
Ilana Aisen, Executive Director of JPRO Network
Rabbi Laura Baum, Associate Vice President of Learning and Engagement at Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Boston's Federation
Rabbi Benjamin Berger, Program Director at The Wexner Foundation
Rabbi Rachel Rudis Bovitz, Chief Strategy Officer of the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning
Dr. Erica Brown, Associate Professor at the GW Graduate School of Education and Human Development and Director of the Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership
Gali Cooks, Executive Director of Leading Edge
Abi Dauber Sterne, Vice President for Jewish Education at Hillel International
Rabbi Josh Fiegelson, Founder and Executive Director of Ask Big Questions
Dr. Michael Feuer, Dean of the GW Graduate School of Education and Human Development
Dr. Ben Jacobs, Visiting Associate Professor in the GW Graduate School of Education and Human Development
Dr. Susan Kardos, Senior Director, Strategy & Education Planning at the AVI CHAI Foundation
Judy Mars Kupchin, CEO of the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning
Dr. Erik Ludwig, Director of the Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management
Dr. Jon Levisohn, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Chair in Jewish Educational Thought at Brandeis University
Dr. Hal M. Lewis, President and Chief Executive Officer of Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership
Dr. Rona Milch Novick, Dean of the Asrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration at Yeshiva University
Dr. Alex Pomson, Managing Director of Rosov Consulting
Dr. Bill Robinson, Dean of the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education
Rabbi Ari Rockoff, Director of Leadership Development at the Orthodox Union
Abby Saloma, Senior Program Officer with the Schusterman Family Foundation
Dr. Theodore Sasson, Director of Programs at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mendel Foundation
Dr. Elana Stein Hain, Director of Leadership Education at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America
Dr. Julia Storberg-Walker, Associate Professor at the GW Graduate School of Education and Human Development
Joshua Troderman, CEO of ShalomLearning
Dr. Jonathan Woocher, Senior Fellow at Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah
Mark Young, Managing Director of the Leadership Commons
Stefanie Zelkind, Director of The Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars program
We asked participants to share some of the challenges they encounter in this important work. We have provided their rich insights below: