In the immediate aftermath of October 7th and the subsequent rise in antisemitism, a plethora of new research emerged focused on the needs, feelings, and opinions of American Jews. Jewish communal professionals wanted to make sense of these often-complex data and trends for their own practical purposes. Responding to this need, CASJE (Collaborative for Applied Studies in Jewish Education) developed a Research Digest to serve as an educational tool that made research more accessible and applicable for professionals busy planning and practicing in a new, post-October 7th world.
Over the last ten years CASJE has helped stakeholders in Jewish education develop and use high-quality, applied research to improve their work. The CASJE Research Digest built on this proven record, providing reliable, meaningful, and timely information to support communal leaders and funders benefit in their decision making.
At CASJE, we believe that Jewish communal decision-makers should be guided by the highest quality knowledge. A core aim of our work is to help Jewish communal and foundation professionals put research to good use. In the wake of the October 7 attack on Israel we saw the launch of a number of important data collection efforts here in the U.S. focused on the attitudes and experiences of American Jews. In this challenging and pivotal time we designed the Research Digest to both facilitate access to this growing body of research evidence and give insight into how to read that evidence in contextually appropriate ways.
– Arielle Levites, PhD, Managing Director of CASJE at George Washington University
A key aim of the digest was to help the field improve its collective capacity to be smart consumers and users of research. All studies have limitations, and the digest illuminated those limitations without judgment. Interpreting sophisticated research for a general audience, and unpacking where data can and cannot be applied, aligns with CASJE’s mission to see research applied effectively. Examining study limitations in the digest also enabled the reader to answer critical questions: What do these findings mean for me and what I am trying to accomplish for the people I serve, in this place where they are, at this time that we’re in, and with the resources I have. To that end, CASJE also shared a discussion guide in each digest for use with colleagues to frame discussion about the featured studies and their applicability in various Jewish communal settings.
CASJE, the Jim Joseph Foundation, and certainly many others were hearing a real need to help make sense of this immense amount of new information. Leaders and practitioners in the field had to pivot so quickly; they didn’t have time to comb through new studies and determine what information was most pertinent to them. CASJE stepped in to help these professionals quickly make sense of them and think about the contexts in which these new findings were most relevant.
– Stacie Cherner, Director of Research and Learning, Jim Joseph Foundation
The Research Digest’s 11 issues featured studies on American Jews and timely topics around the Israel-Hamas war and/or antisemitism. The studies, conducted by professional researchers, were already being discussed and circulated in the Jewish communal space and the general public. Two issues of the Research Digest also featured interviews with experts on how to interpret public opinion polls.
Beyond the digest, CASJE’s ongoing work continues. The CASJE Small Grants Program supports studies of Jewish educational processes and outcomes. These grants are intended to stimulate research that investigates Jewish education and its effects, and that is well-positioned to inform practice. Previous Small Grants projects have investigated learning across the wide variety of settings where Jewish education happens and focus on learners of any age across the lifespan. Other current CASJE projects include its Applied Research Fellowship, an advanced training program for scholars, and its Research Use Group, which empowers Jewish educational and engagement professionals to build their capacity to lead research-informed initiatives. CASJE also is a proud member of the fifth cohort of Project Accelerate, a unique program that guides and supports high-performing organizations poised to enter a new stage in their growth and development.
CASJE’s work is guided by an Advisory Board made up of highly accomplished scholars and practitioners in Jewish education and general education. Access the Research Digest issues here. Learn more about CASJE’s other current projects here.
The Jim Joseph Foundation is a supporter of CASJE.