Dr. Hecht is an occasional research consultant and currently is Program Evaluator for Academic Technology Services at Harvard University. She completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Chicago and her B.A. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Beginning with her graduate theses, Shirah has conducted research related to Jewish education and community for over two decades, including as an evaluation and research consultant with CJP of Boston, Brandeis University’s Mandel Institute for Studies in Jewish Education, and as a staff member with JESNA. She published a report on Holocaust education in Jewish Education Leadership in 2009 as well as a response to a student on this topic in the URJ publication Torah at the Center that year. In addition to her teaching at Gratz College, Shirah has been a Lecturer at Boston College, Hebrew College and Penn State University (on-line), teaching the Sociology of Religion, Research Methods, Israeli Society and Culture, and Jewish Civilization (on-line); she also prepared a conference for Hebrew College in Boston on women and religion in America, bringing together participants from the Jewish, Christian and Islamic communities.
She has presented academic papers on the egalitarian minyan, Israel attachment, and Holocaust education and published a paper on assessment and the goals of Jewish education in Jewish Education Leadership (2011). Shirah has also taught in supplemental educational programs and has created adult education programs, organized congregational events, led a women’s singing group, and given d’var Torah presentations. Shirah lives in the Boston area with her husband, where her path regularly leads her back to the Jewish community and its concerns.
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