The Applied Research Collective for American Jewry at NYU


The NYU Applied Research Collective for American Jewry convenes scholars and practitioners in and beyond the Jewish community to collaboratively develop recommendations in funding and policy for Jewish foundations and organizations.


Recognizing the dramatic societal, economic, and political changes of the 21st century, the Collective seeks to generate a responsive body of literature and cohort of thinkers to enhance Jewish communal life for the coming decades. 


The projects of the Collective for academic year 2018-2019 include:

  1. The Research Fellowship: Through a collaborative writing process, scholars and practitioners from a variety of fields, which reflect the demographic diversity of American Jewry, will release a joint publication.

  2. National Conference: In the first week of June 2019, Fellows will present their work at New York University open to scholars, foundation professionals, and Jewish communal leaders.

  3. Journal: Scheduled for publication in August 2019, the journal of the Collective



Carol Gilligan, New York University

Eliyahu Stern, Yale University


Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, New York University

Program Manager

Michaela Slutsky, New York University

Advisory Board

Mark Charendoff, The Maimonides Fund

Jay Kaiman, The Marcus Foundation

Barry Finestone, The Jim Joseph Foundation

Lisa Eisen, The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation

Fellows 2018-2019

Dr. Lila Corwin Berman is Professor of History at Temple University. She holds the Murray Friedman Chair of American Jewish History and directs the Feinstein Center for American Jewish History. Berman received her B.A. from Amherst College and her Ph.D. from Yale. She is currently writing a book titled “The American Jewish Philanthropic Complex: The Historical Formation of a Multi-Billion Dollar Institution” (under contract with Princeton University Press). She is author of Metropolitan Jews: Politics, Race, and Religion in Postwar Detroit (University of Chicago, 2015), for which she received support from the National Endowment of the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies, and Speaking of Jews: Rabbis, Intellectuals, and the Creation of an American Public Identity (California, 2009), a finalist for the Jewish Book Council’s Sami Rohr Prize. Her articles have appeared in several publications, including the American Historical Review, Journal of American History, and Jewish Social Studies, as well as many edited volumes.

Dr. Jon A. Levisohn is the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Associate Professor of Jewish Educational Thought at Brandeis University, where he also directs the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education. A philosopher of Jewish and general education, he holds degrees from Harvard College and Stanford University, and has also studied at Yeshivat Sha’alvim, the Hebrew University, and the Shalom Hartman Institute. He is an alumnus of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, and has recently served on the faculty of the Bronfman Fellowship and the Tikvah Institute. His publications include Turn It and Turn It Again: Studies in the Teaching and Learning of Classical Jewish Texts (Jon A. Levisohn and Susan P. Fendrick, eds., 2013), Advancing the Learning Agenda in Jewish Education (Jon A. Levisohn and Jeffrey Kress, eds., 2018), and Beyond Jewish Identity: Rethinking Concepts and Imagining Alternatives (Jon A. Levisohn and Ari Y. Kelman, eds., forthcoming).

Dr. Annie Polland is the Executive Director of the American Jewish Historical Society. She was formerly the Vice President for Programs & Education at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, where she oversaw exhibits and interpretation. She is the co-author, with Daniel Soyer, of Emerging Metropolis: New York Jews in the Age of Immigration, winner of the 2012 National Jewish Book Award. She received her Ph.D. in History from Columbia University, and also served as Vice President of Education at the Museum at Eldridge Street, where she wrote Landmark of the Spirit (Yale University). She also teaches at New York University.

Steven I. Weiss is founder of a firm, currently in stealth mode, bringing big-data and artificial intelligence (AI) to the nonprofit and related sectors. Prior to his current experience in data science and AI, he spent 15 years as an award-winning investigative and broadcast journalist, newsroom manager and media entrepreneur. Repeatedly making international headlines with his reporting, his work has been repeatedly cited on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, the BBC and Al Jazeera, as well as inthe pages of the New York Times and elsewhere. He has also published repeatedly on issues of national, moral, and Jewish concern, in such publications as The Atlantic, The Washington Post, New York, Harper's, and Slate, among many others. He lives in Harlem, with his wife and two children.

Yavilah McCoy is the CEO of the Diversity consulting group DIMENSIONS Inc. Yavilah is a pioneer of the Jewish diversity and equity movement and has been an activist and mentor for the empowerment of Jews of Color for most of her life. Yavilah was voted one of “16 Faith Leaders to Watch” by the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC. She is acertified coach for the Auburn Theological Seminary's Pastoral Coach Training Program and an inaugural fellow ofthe Sojourner Truth Leadership Circle. Yavilah is a certified trainer for the” A World of Difference Institute,” the National Coalition Building Institute, and the National Center for Community and Justice. Yavilah was also the Director of Bronfman Philanthropy’s Curriculum Initiative (TCI) in Boston, where she provided educational consultancy to 600 prep schools across the nation. Yavilah was one of the inaugural recipients of the Spielberg Foundation’s Joshua Venture Fellowship, and the founding director of Ayecha, one of the first nonprofit Jewish organizations to provide education and advocacy for Jews of Color in the United States.

Leon Setton, LCSW is a practicing psychotherapist as well as, the Senior Social Worker at Footsteps, an organization that provides support for people transitioning out of Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities. Leon received a certification in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy from the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Study Center (PPSC) in New York City. Prior to his current work, Leon worked as the Assistant Director of Behavioral Health at GMHC working with LGBTQ and HIV+ populations.
Leon received his MSW from Hunter College School of Social Work.

Maia Ipp is a writer, editor, and culture producer. In 2018 she became a co-editor of Jewish Currents,the historic magazine of the Jewish left, whose quarterly print magazine, website, and public event campaign she helped redesign and reinvigorate. Alongside her duties as a co-editor, she writes and edits arts and culture features for the magazine. She is also currently the Teaching Artist for the Brooklyn Jews' New Jewish Culture Fellowship. In 2016-17 she lived in Krakow, where she held a writing fellowship from the Polish Ministry of Culture and co-founded Festivalt, a festival of avant-garde Jewishart and ideas. She created and led the Borderlands Residency in northern Poland in 2016, a collaborative workshop for Jewish and
non-Jewish artists from the U.S., Poland, and Lithuania who work on Holocaust-related projects. Maia is a Wexner Graduate Fellow/Davidson Scholar. She was Associate Director of Creative Writing at School of the Arts in San Francisco from 2009-2016, and was an editor at City Lights Books & Publishers from 2006-2011.

Joshua Foer is a writer and journalist whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, National Geographic, Esquire, Slate, Outside, the New York Times, and other publications. Moonwalking with Einstein, an international best seller published in 34 languages, is his first book. Josh is the co-founder of the online guide to the world’s wonders & curiosities, Atlas Obscura, and co-author of the #1 NYT best seller Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders. He is also the co-founder of the non-profit Sefaria, and of the design competition Sukkah City.

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