Academic Year 2011-2012
Adam Gaynor is a Consultant with The Whelan Group, a New York-based firm providing planning and advisory services to non-profits and foundations.
His past experience includes: Executive Director of The Curriculum Initiative; Assistant Director of the Edgar M. Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at NYU, Assistant Director of the Edgar M. Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at NYU; social work consultant at The Educational Alliance for public school-based, post-9/11 programs; project co-coordinator at The Jewish Agency’s Department of Education in Jerusalem; and Director of Multicultural Affairs at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.
Adam graduated with High Honors from Bates College in 1996 with a degree in Women’s Studies. His undergraduate research culminated in a thesis entitled, “Jewish American Princess Jokes: A Disparaging Humor Cycle as a Vehicle for Hate Speech.” Adam earned Masters Degrees in Jewish Studies and Social Work from the Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University, respectively, and is currently pursuing doctoral work in Education and Jewish Studies at NYU through a Professional Leaders Project academic fellowship. Adam was recognized by the New York Jewish Week as one of 36 top innovators under the age of 36.
The End of Identity?
New York Jews and the Search for Continuity, 1988-2000
My research will examine the forces—particularly philanthropy—that shaped Jewish educational policy during the tumultuous period surrounding the release of the National Jewish Population Survey of 1990. The Study’s most prominent finding, that 52% of American Jews who had recently married, had married outside of the community, deeply impacted conversations about Jewish communal policy and priorities with regard to Jewish education, and the efficacy of educational institutions at transmitting Jewish wisdom and fostering Jewish identity among the next generation.
Jewish educational research overwhelmingly focuses on teaching and learning. However, without an examination of the relationship between philanthropy and the educational policies that determine which curricula are developed, how teachers are trained, and what outcomes Jewish educational programs hope to achieve, the primary assumptions that undergird the transmission of Jewish wisdom and identity will remain opaque. In this way, Jewish education shares something in common with public education: philanthropy has increasingly influenced educational policy on the federal, state, and municipal levels, driving ideologically charged but largely untested interventions such as charter schools and school reconstitution programs.
This policy-level analysis will be conducted through the lens of a particular institution—UJA-Federation of New York—during the 1990s, with a particular examination of UJA-Federation’s Continuity Commission, founded during this period.