The center will offer courses for graduate and undergraduate students working toward careers in Jewish leadership. It will promote debate on pressing issues in Jewish communal life and offer seminars for Jewish community professionals and the public.
The Mayberg Foundation endowed the center, and covered initial programmatic, academic and administrative expenses.
The center, housed in the university’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development, is directed by Associate Professor Erica Brown.
“I am thrilled to be working with the Mayberg Foundation on this exciting new venture,” said Brown. “The center will align, support and amplify the Maybergs’ existing deep commitment to improving Jewish education. It is time to bridge the distance between the academy and the community so that important research today translates into best practices tomorrow.”
(Louis and Manette Mayberg, trustees of the foundation, are members of the ownership group of Mid-Atlantic Media, which publishes Washington Jewish Week.)
Brown is the author of 11 books, a faculty member of the Wexner Foundation and a community scholar for both the Jewish Center of Manhattan and the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston. She holds degrees from Yeshiva University, University of London, Harvard University and Baltimore Hebrew University.
Beyond her academic credentials, Brown said she has “spent a lot of years in the trenches and hallways of Jewish organizations. I have one foot in each world which lets me think more clearly where some of the exciting merging can happen.”
The benefit of bridging academia and community, Brown said, is that communal institutions can utilize research findings as they comes up, and then in turn, inform researchers of what is happening in the trenches.
“Research can help in strengthening pedagogy and curriculum development in schools, help those in the field of experiential education focus priorities based on impact, and help us measure and evaluate the success of programs we run,” Brown said.
She added, “there are other universities that are doing [this kind of work], so for us it’s about being the nation’s capital and being able to provide something regional, and that is unique.”
“The Mayberg Center is an important milestone in our philanthropic evolution,” said Louis Mayberg, a graduate of GWU and president of GWU’s Hillel board of trustees. “The university’s track record and reputation make it the perfect home for this new center, designed to advance our foundation’s mission.”
“We believe in the richness of our tradition to help create a diverse Jewish presence and future,” said Todd Sukol, executive director of the Mayberg Foundation. And “we can’t settle for superficial approaches” when it comes to the education of both Jewish children and adults.
He anticipated that the gift and the center’s work will spur others to follow suit. The amount of the gift was not disclosed.
Manette Mayberg said: “The center brings an important new dimension to our foundation’s contribution to the Jewish future. It aligns important elements of our philanthropic priorities. We anticipate tangible results and we are proud to partner with Erica Brown and GWU.”