Wendy, a Wexner Graduate Fellowship alumna, Class VI, is the Founder and Principal of Rosov Consulting, www.rosovconsulting.com – a consulting firm working with philanthropic and non-profit clients to utilize research and evaluation to inform strategy and decision-making, as well as enhance impact. Wendy is based in Berkeley California with clients across the US, Canada and Israel. Wendy can be reached at wendy@rosovconsulting.com

Some twenty years ago, I was fortunate enough to be selected as a Wexner Graduate Fellow. When I arrived at Stanford to begin my work, I thought I would follow in the well-worn path of academics that chose to research the pressing issues in Jewish education. Instead, I found a field where there was a great deal of chatter about “researching Jewish education,” but no real action or coordination across the field. I couldn’t find a trail of research to follow.

As a young researcher, I was forced to forge an academic path alone. I knew, even then, that the field of Jewish education could do much better.

Today, I am pleased to help launch and lead an effort to ensure this doesn’t happen to the next generation of researchers. When we succeed, any academician, practitioner, philanthropist or community leader who wishes to conduct or utilize research on Jewish education will find a clear roadmap and partners with whom to share the journey.

In early 2012, we’ll publicly launch the Consortium for Applied Studies in Jewish Education (CASJE). This is a new initiative funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation and the Avi Chai Foundation. It is led by our firm, Rosov Consulting, in collaboration with Dr. Lee Shulman, the President Emeritus of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. In addition to bringing together scholarly researchers, it will engage leaders across Jewish formal and informal education, and there is a role to play for every Wexner alumnus.

There is a rich and diverse field of rigorous analysis of Jewish education happening right now, but you wouldn’t know it. There are pockets of research projects, usually centered on academic leaders and their individual expertise and scattered across academic and community institutions. Everything is siloed. These are small points of light on a massively dark landscape.

But there is hope.

Our team is putting the final touches on an analysis of nearly every bit of academic, philanthropic and practitioner research conducted in Jewish education since 2005. Making this available means that no practitioner, philanthropist, policy-maker, researcher – whether a senior scholar, a doctoral or master’s candidate or somewhere in between – has to go it alone. Each will be able to access the multitude of studies that our team has identified, coded, and organized into clusters.

So…what does this mean for Wexner alums?

First, I’d like you to share our excitement. We are building a roadmap for the next generation of academic engagement in studying Jewish education. We believe this will be a transformative project. 

Second, in the months and years ahead, we’ll share opportunities for participation. You could serve on a panel to map out a field of research. You can join wikis and other opportunities we will provide for “crowdsourcing” real-time information and ideas from those deliberating key issues in formal and informal Jewish education.

Finally, you can help by harnessing our collective wisdom and pairing it with philanthropic support for a new generation of researchers. Together, we can identify and connect tomorrow’s Jewish education researchers to the most pressing challenges in Jewish education – and work together to solve them through rigorous research. 

This is a crucial exercise for every pocket of Jewish education. It was a huge day when Avi Chai and Jim Joseph came together and decided that this was the moment to pilot something that had never been done before in Jewish academia. We were honored when they asked my firm to design it. We are fortunate to work with Lee Shulman, one of the brightest lights in Jewish education research. Our team is also full of Wexner Graduate fellows and alumni including Rafi Cashman, a Wexner Graduate Fellow, Class XXII and Frayda Gonshor Cohen, an alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, Class XX. True to the Wexner approach, we’re hoping to make a big change that will have a lasting legacy. As the years progress, together we can build the largest, most transparent, and connected field of researchers and lay leaders to chart a future for Jewish education. I hope you will join us.