Ofra Arieli Backenroth

Associate Dean of The Davidson School and Assistant Professor of Jewish Education

Department: Hebrew, Jewish Education , Hebrew Literature, Israeli Literature , William Davidson Graduate School

Phone: (212) 678-8812

Email: ofbackenroth@jtsa.edu

Building Room: Brush 524

Office Hours: By Appointment

Dr. Ofra Arieli Backenroth is the associate dean of the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education of The Jewish Theological Seminary and an assistant professor of Jewish education.

She has taught Hebrew literature and modern dance in numerous schools in New York City and Israel. Her interests reflect an integration of the arts in Jewish education, Hebrew language, Hebrew and Israeli literature, preparing students for professional life through practicum courses, and teaching Israel.

Dr. Arieli Backenroth earned an MFA in dance education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a BA in comparative literature and an education diploma from Tel Aviv University. In 2006, she participated in the Summer Institute for Israel Studies at Brandeis University and in Israel.

She received an EdD in Jewish education in 2004 from The Davidson School. Her dissertation was The Blossom School: A Portrait of an ArtsBased Jewish Day School.

Prior to assuming her current position, Dr. Arieli Backenroth was an assistant professor of Jewish studies at Gratz College in Philadelphia and a guest professor in the Revivim program at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.


  • Young Scholar Award, Network for Research in Jewish Education, 2001


  • “Dance as a Way of Knowing: Studying Jewish Texts Through Dance.” In Under One Tent: Circus, Judaism, Bible One Tent, editing by O. Prouser, M. Kaspar and A. Prouser. Ben Yehuda Press, 2023.
  • “Designing a Constructivist Online.” With M. L. Katz. In From the Intuitive to the Intentional. 2017.
  • “Vision, Curriculum, and Pedagogical Content Knowledge in the Preparation of Israel Educators.” With Alex Sinclair. Journal of Jewish Education 80, no. 2 (2014): 121–47.
  • What Does It Mean to Be an Israel Educator?” With Alex Sinclair. eJewish Philanthropy. February 1, 2013.
  • Reveling and Unraveling in the Face of Israel’s Complexity.” With Alex Sinclair. eJewish Philanthropy. August 29, 2013.
  • “Arts and Jewish Day School Education in North America.” In International Handbook of Jewish Education, edited by Helena Miller, Lisa D. Grant, and Alex Pomson, 355–72. London: Springer, 2011.
  • “Temima Gezari: An Art Education Pioneer.” In The Women Who Reconstructed American Jewish Education, 1910–1965. Edited by Carol K. Ingall, 165–87. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2010.
  • “Breaking Myths, Building Identity: Practitioner-Researcher Reflections on Running an Israel Seminar for Jewish Education Graduate Students.” With Alex Sinclair and Roberta Bell-Kligler. International Journal of Jewish Education Research 1 (Feb. 2010): 49–74.
  • “Putting the Arts into Jewish Education.” HaYidion, The Ravsak Journal, April 3, 2008.
  • “What Do We Know About Art Education Research?” In What We Now Know About Jewish Education, edited by Roberta Louis Goodman, Paul A. Flexner, and Linda Dale Bloomberg, 335–42. Los Angeles: Torah Aura Productions, 2008.
  • “Art as Midrash.” In CJ: Voices of Conservative/Masorti Judaism (Winter 2007).
  • “Bringing the Text to Life and into Our Lives: Jewish Education and the Arts.” With Shira D. Epstein and Helena Miller. Religious Education 101, no. 4 (Fall 2006): 467–80.
  • Introduction to Open It Up! Integrating the Arts into Jewish Education, by Peter Allard, Ellen Allard, Gabrielle Suzanne Kaplan, Aliya Cheskis-Cotel, and Gwen Mayer, vii–xxiv. Springfield, NJ: Behrman House, 2006.
  • “Art Homework in Jewish Education.” Gleaning 7, no. 3 (2005).