Dr. Shira D. Epstein is an assistant professor of Jewish Education in the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education of The Jewish Theological Seminary. Among the courses she teaches are Skills for Teaching, Curriculum and Instruction in Jewish Educational Settings, Perspectives on Gender and Education, Early Childhood Education, and Methods of Research in Jewish Education.
Dr. Epstein coordinates the day school track, supervising student field work and teaching the year-long practicum. She has extensive teaching, curriculum writing, and mentoring experience in varied Jewish educational settings.
Dr. Epstein's research interests include gender and Jewish education. She was founding project director for Addressing Evaded Issues in Jewish Education, which has received funding from the Jewish Women's Foundation of NY, Hadassah Foundation, and Dobkin Family Foundation. She codeveloped the Evaded Issues Resource Guide for Jewish Educators and Educational Jewish Moments methodology. She authored two curricula for Jewish Women International (JWI): "Strong Girls, Healthy Relationships: A Conversation on Dating, Friendship, and Self-Esteem" (2006) and "Strong Girls! Friendships, Relationships, and Self-Esteem."
In April 2008, Dr. Epstein received the Voices of Valor award from Dayenu! Enough Silence, the domestic violence initiative of the New York Board of Rabbis. Dr. Epstein has served in several lay leadership positions, including co-chair of UJA-Federation of New York's Task Force on the Jewish Woman Steering Committee, representative of Youth Programs on JWI's National Leadership Council, and on the Rosh Hodesh: It's a Girl Thing! National Advisory Committee. A chapter titled "Shifting from 'Evading' to 'Engaging'; Gender Issues and Jewish Adolescents" will appear in the forthcoming International Handbook of Jewish Education.
Dr. Epstein's research interests also include arts in Jewish education, primarily focusing on "drama as pedagogy." She has served as consultant for LABA: The National Laboratory for New Jewish Culture at the 14th Street Y, producing a report titled "The Pedagogy and Practice of Jewish Communal Artistic Engagement: LABA and the 14th Street Y." She is currently developing interactive educational workshops for the 14th Street Y's Girls Theater Project. Dr. Epstein has also served as educational consultant for Storahtelling.
Dr. Epstein is engaged in innovative professional development for Jewish early childhood initiatives. She currently serves on the advisory board for BJENY-SAJES Early Childhood Department and is presenting on "reflective practice" throughout 2009–10 at the department's professional development days for Jewish early childhood educators. She is also working with the 14th Street Y and Storahtelling to develop the StorahSteps program for Jewish early childhood settings.
Dr. Epstein has a doctorate in education (Curriculum and Teaching) from Teachers College, Columbia University (2003), and was a Wexner Graduate Fellow (1999–2003). She holds a master of arts degree in Educational Theater from New York University (1996) and a bachelor of arts degree in Women's Studies, with a concentration in the Education of Girls, from Brown University (1994).
Clip from Dr. Epstein's seminar "What Girls Want Their Parents to Understand" at the Nextbook Jewish Body Week Event. The event was held at the JCC of Manhattan in October 2009.
Two clips from an "Educational Jewish Moments" training held at JTS in February 2009.
Introduction to the event
Session from Mitzvah Initiative Training, "Translating Our Understanding of Mitzvah to a Pedagogy of Teaching About Mitzvah."
See Shira Epstein discuss the Evaded Issues program in the Jewish Women's Foundation of New York's 2009 Tenth Anniversary video (Dr. Epstein appears three minutes into the video.)
On the Evaded Issues Program:
"The Meaning of Life," Tablet, October 2009
"A Teacher's Toolkit for Tackling Tough Issues," Jewish Daily Forward, December 2008
"Jews and Sexuality in the Modern Day World," Yeshiva University Observer, December 2008
"Learning to Teach the Toughest of Subjects," Jewish Week, August 2006
"Grant Helps Professor Tackle Adolescent Issues," Jewish Daily Forward, August 2006
Written by Dr. Shira Epstein:
"From Reflection to Action: Professional Development as Springboard to Gender Education," Jewish Educational Leadership, Spring 2008
"Moments of Opportunity," Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility, February 2009
"Strong Girls, Healthy Relationships," Jewish Women International, November 2009
"From Queen to Nobody: A Language for Discussing Healthy Relationships," Torah at the Center, Fall 2007
"Bringing the Text to Life and Into Our Lives: Jewish Education and the Arts," Religious Education, Fall 2006
"Reimagining Literary Practices: Creating Living Midrash From Ancient Texts Through Tableau," Journal of Jewish Education, Summer 2004
"How Goodly Are Thy Tents: Summer Camps as Jewish Socializing," book review for Journal of Jewish Education, Volume 71, Number 1, 2005
"Jewish Holidays Alive!" Jewish Education News, Fall 1998