The University recently announced that Prof. Jon Levisohn (NEJS) will be assuming the role of director of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education in early July. Levisohn will be replacing Prof. Sharon Feiman-Nemser (NEJS), who is stepping down after leading the center for 12 years.

Levisohn is a member of the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies department, and is currently the Associate academic director for the center. His main areas of academic focus are the philosophy of education and the philosophy of Jewish education.

In an interview with the Justice, Feiman-Nemser said that she is very enthusiastic about this new transition in leadership.

"[Levisohn] has wonderful ideas, and I feel that there will be a lot of continuity in what we've been doing." She further added that it "feels like time for a new face [in this role]."

When asked why she would be stepping down as director, Feiman-Nemser said that she feels it is time for new leadership. She also said that she believes this transition will give her "more time to do research and write, and not be so involved in administrative responsibilities."

Levisohn said that he is eager to take on new responsibilities. "Sharon and I have worked closely for much of my time [at the center], and I am excited for this transition," said Levisohn. He said that he hopes to help the center heighten its focus on the learning aspect of the educator-learner relationship, in addition to focusing on educators.

In addition to continuing old initiatives, Levisohn said that he wants to move forward with new initiatives for the center. One such initiative is an undergraduate fellowship through the center that would allow students to be involved in research on Jewish education. "We know that there are a number of undergraduates ... who are interested in Jewish education," said Levisohn.

He added that the fellowship would be a "nice opportunity for [the students] to get some experience with research" and provide the center with "ongoing contact with people who are interested in coming up in this field."

During her time at the center, Feiman-Nemser oversaw many initiatives, including the Delet Program, which offers the opportunity to earn a Master of Arts in Teaching degree and a Massachusetts initial teaching license in 13 months, according to the program's website. The program allows students to choose from multiple tracks, all of which include elementary general and Judaic studies, middle and high school Bible or general studies and Hebrew.

Feiman-Nemser said that Delet is "the only program in the field of Jewish education that combines serious academic and professional studies with a year-long mentorship at a local day school." She added that she is extremely happy with the program, as it has not only "prepared over 100 teachers over the last 12 years," but also serves as a "model for the field [of Jewish education]."

Overall, Feiman-Nemser said that she has greatly enjoyed her tenure as director of the Mandel Center.

"I feel like we have accomplished a great deal," she said. "The main projects I started are either coming to fruition or winding up... and I think it's probably time for new leadership."

This transition does not mean Feiman-Nemser intends to stop working, however. "I intend to continue to be a part of the center and contribute to the work going forward," she said. After the transition, Feiman-Nemser will continue her work with the NEJS department and the Education program, as well as with the center.

The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education was started by the Mandel Foundation, a group created by the Mandels with the mission of "helping to provide outstanding leadership for the nonprofit field," according to the foundation's website.

The foundation can be located in the Abraham Shapiro Academic Complex.