Skip to main content

Search NYU Steinhardt

Students partake in a discussion

PhD, Education and Jewish Studies Alumni

Dr. Tali Aldouby-Schuck

Director of Professional Development and Judaic Studies Curriculum, Westchester Fairfield Hebrew Academy

Roman Catholic and Conservative Jewish Bible Teachers: Perspectives on the Nexus of Personal Background and Professional Practice

Dr. Janet Bordelon

Lead Historian, Institute for Southern Jewish Life

Janet Bordelon

Interests: History of education, educational foundations, educational law

Janet Bordelon is the lead historian at the Institute of Southern Jewish life in Jackson, Mississippi. As a Jim Joseph and Wiener fellow, she completed her Ph.D. in Education and Jewish studies in 2014. Janet came to NYU with a particular interest in church-state issues in American history. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the program, she was able to design a course of studies focusing on American history, constitutional law, and educational policy. During her time at NYU she served as a Tikvah Scholar at NYU’s law school. Her dissertation traced the historical battle over school choice within the American Jewish community from 1945-1983. Along with historical research, she also published research on current pedagogical attempts to address religion in public classroom settings, looking specifically at organizations like the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. While at NYU, she taught undergraduate courses pertaining to the history of American education, culture wars, and religion and educational policy.

Janet graduated magna cum laude from Colby College with a B.A. with honors in History and Government. She completed her M.A. in Judaic studies from the University of Michigan in Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism. Her research focused on the “parting of the ways” between Judaism and Christianity; her thesis investigated religious syncretism in the Greco-Roman world through a study of ancient epitaphs. Following the completion of her masters, Janet taught and developed high school history courses at the secondary level that emphasized the importance of religion and the development of world-views in human history and remains dedicated to doing research that promotes religious tolerance and understanding.

Dr. David Bryfman

Director of the New Center for Collaborative Leadership, The Jewish Education Project

Interests: Jewish adolescent identity development, experiential Jewish education, qualitative research methodology

Dissertation: Giving Voice to a Generation: Role of the Peer Group in the Identity Development of Jewish Adolescents in the United States 

David Bryfman completed his PhD in Education and Jewish Studies at NYU in 2009. His dissertation focused on the role of the peer group in the identity development of Jewish teenagers in the United States. David is also an alumni of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship Program. David has worked in formal and informal Jewish educational institutions in Australia, Israel, and America. He completed his undergraduate and Masters degrees in education in Melbourne, where he was also active in youth movement and Jewish student life. He has lived and studied in Israel, participating in the Institute for Youth Leaders from Abroad, the Melton Senior Educators Program at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and at Pardes. In Australia he was the Director of Informal Jewish Education at a large Jewish day school, a Hillel Director, and the Director of Birthright Israel in Australia. David lived in St. Louis for two years where he was the Director of the Central Agency's Community Supplementary High School and Teen Initiative Programs. David is also a graduate of Brandeis University's Informal Jewish Education Leadership Seminar. David is currently the Director of the New Center for Collaborative Leadership at the Jewish Education Project, formerly known as the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York. 

Dr. Orley Garber

Adjunct Professor, Fingerhut School of Education at the American Jewish University

Orley Garber

Interests: Mentoring; teacher education and professional development; reflective practice

Dissertation: Teachers who become Mentors:Their Teaching, Learning and Classroom Practice

Dr. Orley Garber is originally from England, and is now a very proud US citizen. She moved from Los Angeles to New York in 2007 to embark on her doctoral studies in the EJS program at NYU. A teacher for many years, she was interested in the notion of reflective practice, and the opportunities for reflection that mentoring a new teacher gives mentors. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Ed, and daughter, Maxine. 

Dr. Owen Gottlieb 

Assistant Professor of Interactive Games and Media, Rochester Institute of Technology

Interests: Digital media and learning, games and simulations for learning, ethnography, creativity, wilderness education, gifted education, narrative and learning  

Dissertation: Mobile, Location Based Game Design for Teaching Jewish History: A Design-Based Research Study

Rabbi Dr. Owen Gottlieb is Assistant Professor of Interactive Games and Media at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He is also the Founder and Lead Researcher at the Initiative in Religion, Culture, and Policy at the RIT MAGIC Center (Media, Arts, Games, Interaction, and Creativity) ( Gottlieb is the Founder and Director of ConverJent: Jewish Games for Learning ( (founded 2010). His and the ConverJent team's mobile augmented reality game, Jewish Time Jump: New York was nominated for Most Innovative Games at the 10th annual Games for Change Festival. Gottlieb is a recipient of the Emerging Scholar Award from the Network for Research in Jewish Education (2013). He is a member of the International Game Developers Association, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the Writers Guild of America, West. His research crosses fields including the learning sciences, anthropology, communications, media studies, social studies, and religious studies. ( 

Dr. Leslie Ginsparg Klein 

Academic Dean, Maalot College for Women, Baltimore; Teacher of Jewish history and Jewish studies, Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community High School
Leslie Ginsparg Klein 

Interests: Jewish history, history of education, gender studies 

Dissertation: Defining Bais Yaakov: A Historical Study of Yeshivish Girls' Education in America: 1963-1984 

Leslie Ginsparg Klein is Academic Dean of Maalot College for Women, Baltimore. She previously served as an instructor of Jewish history and Jewish studies at the Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community High School in Baltimore, and as Director of the Honors Program and an Assistant Professor of History and Jewish studies at Touro College in Manhattan.

Dr. Ginsparg Klein received her PhD in Education and Jewish Studies at New York University in September 2009. She focused her studies on Jewish history, history of education, and gender history. She is an alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship Program. Her dissertation research was supported by awards from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Hadassah Brandeis Institute and the Network for Research in Jewish Education. She has presented her research at a number of conferences including those of the Association for Jewish Studies and the Network for Research in Jewish Education.

In her spare time, Dr. Ginsparg Klein organizes "open mic nights" and concerts for women, at which she also performs. She is the founder and director of Girls' Night On, a not-for-profit organization that promotes Jewish women in music and the arts. For her work with Girls’ Night On, she was named one of the New York Jewish Week's "36 Under 36," forward-thinking young people who are helping to remake the Jewish community,” in 2009.

A native Chicagoan, Dr. Ginsparg Klein studied abroad at Michlalah: The Jerusalem College for Women. She continued on to New York, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude from Yeshiva University's Stern College for Women with a BA in history. She received her MA in history, with a focus on Jewish history, from New York University. Before returning to graduate school, Dr. Ginsparg Klein worked as a writer and editor. Her writing has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, the New York Daily News, the Chicago Sun Times and the Los Angeles Times.

Dr. Menachem Hecht 

Director of Education, Bnei Akiva of the US and Canada, Director, Moshava Ba'ir

Interests: Sociology of education, organizational culture 

Menachem Hecht is currently the Director of Education for Bnei Akiva of the US and Canada, as well as the Director of Moshava Ba'ir, a religious-Zionist day camp in Northern New Jersey. His past work in formal and informal education includes several years of teaching Talmud and Bible and coordinating student activities at the Frisch school in Paramus, NJ and serving as Head of Camp (Rosh Moshava) at Camp Stone, a Bnei Akiva affiliated summer camp in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Menachem is a doctoral student at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, where he is writing his doctoral thesis in sociology of education, focusing on how Jewish day schools negotiate among multiple educational priorities. He studied for semicha at RIETS, the Yeshiva University seminary, where he received an honors fellowship in 2005. He received a BA summa cum laude in Judaic Studies from Yeshiva University in 2004. He is an alumnus of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship.

When not educating or being educated, Menachem enjoys golf, tennis, biking, and snowboarding.

Dr. Michael Kay 

Head of School, Solomon Schechter School of Westchester
Michael Kay 

Interests: Administration, pluralism 

Dissertation: The Paradox of Pluralism: Leadership and Community Building in Pluralistic Jewish High Schools

Michael Kay is head of school at the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester, a K-12 Jewish day school with campuses in Hartsdale and While Plains, NY. holds an undergraduate degree in Religion and History from Harvard University (2001) and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Jewish Studies from New York University (2009), where he wrote his dissertation on leadership and community building in pluralistic Jewish high schools.

He completed a seven-year tenure at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (CESJDS) in Rockville, MD, where he served as Upper School Principal, Upper School Director of Judaic Studies, and a teacher of Bible and Jewish History. Prior to joining CESJDS, Michael taught at the New Atlanta Jewish Community High School (now the Weber School) and served as Director of Camp Givah, a Jewish summer camp in upstate New York. In addition, he has extensive experience in adult Jewish education in Atlanta, New York and Washington, D.C. 

Dr. Michelle Lynn-Sachs 

Consultant and Researcher in Jewish Education
Michelle Lynn-Sachs 

Interests: Congregational education, educational leadership, organizational change, sociology of education, organizational theory, sociology of religion, congregational studies

Dissertation:  Inside Sunday School: Cultural and Religious Logics at Work at the Intersection of Religion and Education

Dr. Michelle Lynn-Sachs is an independent consultant and researcher, focusing on Jewish education, organizational change, and leadership. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her family.

She has held faculty positions at the Jewish Theological Seminary and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, where her teaching and research focused primarily on leadership for Jewish education in the congregational setting.

Michelle's areas of interest include educational leadership, congregational studies, sociology of education, and sociology of religion. Her recent research project, titled "Inside Sunday School: Cultural and Religious Logics at Work at the Intersection of Religion and Education," was a comparative, ethnographic study of the aspirations for religious education programs in a Catholic church, Protestant church, and synagogue. She has presented her work at conferences of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and the Network for Research in Jewish Education, and has published in the Journal of Jewish Education.

Michelle has also been a researcher and consultant for the Experiment in Congregational Education; congregational educator at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto, Ontario; and a mentor and supervisor for education students at both JTS and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She served on the advisory boards of the Leadership Institute for Congregational School Educators and the Consortium for Applied Studies in Jewish Education.

Michelle received a bachelor of arts degree in Literature and Society from Brown University (1993); master's degree in Jewish Education from the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at HUC (1996); and a doctorate in Education and Jewish Studies from New York University (2007). She was a Wexner Graduate Fellow while at HUC and a Beam Family Fellow at New York University.

Dr. Karen Reiss Medwed 

Professor, Northeastern University
Karen Reiss Medwed 

Interests: Teaching and learning of Jewish text, teacher education, intersection of CK, PCK, PPCK 

Dissertation:   Three Women Teachers of Talmud and Rabbinics in Jewish Non-Orthodox Day High Schools: Their Stories and Experiences

Dr. Reiss Medwed is on faculty at Northeastern University's College of Professional Studies in the Doctorate in Educational Leadership and serves as Chair of the Faith Based Educational Leadership concentration.

The first graduate of the doctoral program in Education and Jewish Studies in NYU Steinhardt, she most recently served as Assistant Professor of Jewish Education at Hebrew College. Prior to that she was Director of Religious Education at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. She earner her BAs in the joint program between Columbia University and List College of The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where she continued on to pursue her MA as well as Rabbinic Ordination. Dr Reiss Medwed's teaching and research focuses on teaching and learning in educational venues for the 21st century.

Dr. Reiss Medwed's areas of interest include educational leadership, TCPK, the teaching of religous text, and teacher education. Her recent paper, titled "Taking Down the Bricks: Social Media and Graduate School Education," was an ethnographic study of the use of social media for instruction in higher education. She has presented her work at conferences of the Network for Research in Jewish Education and for AACE.

Rabbi Karen G. Reiss Medwed, PhD, resides with her family in Atlanta, GA.

Dr. Renee Rubin Ross 

Program Officer, Jim Joseph Foundation
Renee Rubin Ross 

Interests: Sociology of education, sociology of religion, Jewish day schools, qualitative research 

Dissertation:   Parent Involvement and Community Cohesion at a Jewish, Catholic, and Independent Day School

Renee Rubin Ross is a Program Officer at the Jim Joseph Foundation. Her portfolio includes grants in the area of teacher training; the Consortium for Applied Research in Jewish Education; and informal education such as the B’nai Brith Youth Organization’s (BBYO) leadership training initiatives. She also has a particular interest in educator professional development and the use of technology in education.

Renee completed a doctorate in Education and Jewish Studies from New York University and then served as a postdoctoral fellow at Brandeis University’s Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education. Her article based on her dissertation research, "Forms and Patterns of Parent Participation at a Jewish and Catholic School" appeared in the Journal of Jewish Education, Volume 78:1. Renee has written several book reviews for the Journal of Jewish Education and is blogs frequently on different topics within Jewish education.

Prior to her doctoral studies, Renee served as a congregational educator in San Antonio, TX and Beverly Hills, CA. She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Dr. Abigail Uhrman 

Program Officer, Assistant Professor, William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education at JTS

Interests: Special needs, learning disabilities 

Dissertation:   Parents with a Child with Special Needs and Jewish Day Schools

After completing her doctorate in June 2013, Abigail Uhrman joined the Jewish Theological Seminary's faculty as an assistant professor in the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education. A native Californian, Abigail completed her undergraduate work at the University of California, Los Angeles. Before beginning her doctoral studies, Abigail studied as a fellow at the Drisha Institute and worked as a teacher at the Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan. While completing her dissertation, Abigail worked at the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life and, later, as a program and research fellow in the Experiential Learning Initiative of the JTS Davidson School. Abigail lives in Huntington, New York, with her husband, Cantor Israel Gordan, and their two children, Noa and Eli.

Dr. Sharon Weiss-Greenberg 

Executive Director of JOFA
Sharon Weiss-Greenberg 

Interests: Gender studies in the summer camp setting 

Dissertation: The Female Staff Experience in the Jewish Summer Camp Setting 

Sharon is the Executive Director of JOFA (Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance). Previously, she was the Director of Recruitment for Yeshivat Maharat. She was the Director of Online Engagement at the Consortium for Applied Studies in Jewish Education, successfully animating and expanding their network and reach. Sharon earned her doctorate at New York University in Education and Jewish Studies, having concentrated on the female staff experience in the Jewish summer camp setting. She is an alumnus of the Wexner Fellow/Davidson Scholarship graduate program. Sharon has served as the co-director and Orthodox adviser of the Orthodox Union Seif Jewish Learning on Campus Initiative at Harvard Hillel and as the first Orthodox woman chaplain at Harvard University. Sharon was the Rosh Moshava (Head of Camp) at Camp Stone in Pennsylvania. She has taught at Yeshiva University High School for Girls in New York, Yavneh Academy in New Jersey, and the Denver Academy of Torah High School. She studied Talmud and Halakha at The Drisha Institute for Jewish Education. She received her Masters in Education from the Azrieli Graduate School of Yeshiva University and received a B.A. in Sociology and Jewish History from Yeshiva University. Sharon can be reached at

Dr. Tali Zelkowicz 

Assistant Professor of Education; Professor Sara S. Lee Chair for an Emerging Scholar in Jewish Education
Tali Zelkowicz

Interests: Jewish identity formation, qualitative methodologies, sociology of Jewish education, curriculum development, ethnography

Dissertation: An Ethnographic Investigation of the Role of Dissonance in Jewish Identity Building at a Community Jewish High School 

Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Dr. Tali Zelkowicz completed her undergraduate work in sociology at the University of British Columbia (1995) before attending HUC-JIR Los Angeles, where she received an M.A. in Jewish Education from the Rhea Hirsch School of Education (2000), and was ordained as a rabbi at the Los Angeles campus (2002). She also studied sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1993-94). She earned her doctorate at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development (2008), as a Wexner Graduate Fellow. She received the 2006 Young Scholar’s Award, from the Network for Research in Jewish Education and was granted a Writing Dissertation Fellowship for the 2006-2007 year from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. From 2004-2010, she served as the Director of Jewish Programming for Day School Leadership through Teaching. Since 2007, Dr. Zelkowicz has been Assistant Professor of Education in the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at HUC in Los Angeles, where she teaches a variety of classes related to contemporary Jewish life, identity formation, education, and leadership. Specializing in the sociology of Jewish Education, she is interested in the tensions Jewish Americans face as they navigate multiple and often competing identities. Focusing upon the role of conflict in American Jewish identity formation, Zelkowicz is currently working on a book with the working title, “Teaching on Eggshells: Dissonance Ethnic Identity Formation.” The book examines the relative durability and fragility of juxtaposing the teaching of Jewish and secular educational cultures. Tali lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Benny and their two kids, Gavi and Asher.