Gift of $2.7 Million Establishes a Master’s Program in Israel Education

The Marcus Foundation, through a partnership with The iCenter, builds on GW’s strengths in Jewish education and Judaic studies.

June 21, 2021

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Through the generous support of the Marcus Foundation, The iCenter for Israel Education and the George Washington University have created a master’s degree program in Israel education, the first of its kind to be offered at a major university in the United States.

The program is housed within the Graduate School of Education and Human Development (GSEHD).

“This new master’s program is a significant advancement in the preparation of education professionals working to promote deepened knowledge of Israel,” said GSEHD Dean Michael Feuer. “We are grateful to the Marcus Foundation and The iCenter for the unique opportunity they have afforded us and the diverse community of scholars and practitioners who will benefit from this extraordinary program.”

The master’s in Israel education degree is a two-year, part-time program that brings together cohorts of Jewish educators, leaders and changemakers to learn new methods and techniques for Israel education. Through vision-based learning and practical educational strategies, each cohort explores the historical and contemporary politics, culture and geography of Israel to develop educational experiences that emphasize the centrality of Israel to Jewish education, civilization and life.

Over the past decade, graduate-level Jewish educational activities at GW have grown substantially under the leadership of Dr. Feuer and supported by Benjamin M. Jacobs, a GSEHD research associate professor, Erica Brown, director of the Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership and a GSEHD associate professor of curriculum and pedagogy, and Arielle Levites, managing director of the Collaborative for Applied Studies in Jewish Education (CASJE)  at GSEHD.

GW recently completed a strategic planning process to combine these and related activities under the aegis of The Collaboratory: A Center for Jewish Education at GW.

Outside of GW’s formal study of Jewish history, politics and culture, the university has a strong Jewish community among its student population. With more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students identifying as Jewish, organizations like GW Hillel help students explore their Jewish identity and values and connect with other Jewish students. GW Hillel also allows students to discover the complexities of Israel through programs like Onward Israel and Birthright Israel. 

“Supporting Jewish education and student life is a priority at GW, and we are so grateful for this generous gift that supports our thought leaders’ innovative work to deepen understanding,” said Donna Arbide, GW’s vice president of development and alumni relations. “GW has a vibrant Jewish community—a substanial percentage of our students identify as Jewish—so we are acutely aware of the importance and impact of this gift and new degree program. The multitude of GW’s Jewish education programs paired with Hillel’s new building and extensive offerings on campus reinforces our commitment to supporting Jewish identity.”

For more information on ways to support Jewish education at GW, please contact Ilana Weltman at [email protected].