Faculty

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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.
 

Director of Gratz Advance and NEXT

Rabbi Hirsh, Assistant Professor of Jewish Education, is the Director of Gratz Advance, which is Gratz College's newest department. Gratz Advance includes NEXT: the Professional Learning Program for Supplementary School Teachers, which Rabbi Hirsh created. It also encompasses other programs related to supplementary Jewish education, such as JSASIP: Jewish School Assessment School Improvement Process. Rabbi Hirsh's Gratz Advance portfolio also includes all of Gratz College's programs for high school students, including the Jewish Community High School, JOLT: Jewish Online Learning for Teens and Gratz Academy, which offers college credit opportunities for high school students. 

Rabbi Hirsh earned a Master of Arts in Jewish Education from Gratz College in 2016. She earned a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters and the title rabbi from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2000. Rabbi Hirsh earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology, with emphases in Jewish Studies and Women's Studies, from Vassar College.

Prior to coming to Gratz College, Rabbi Hirsh served as Director of Congregational Education for the Reconstructionist Movement. In that capacity, she trained and mentored dozens of rabbis, Jewish educators, and communal leaders. Rabbi Hirsh also directed two congregational schools in the Greater Philadelphia area for more than a decade.

Peter Hocking is teacher, organizational development consultant, visual artist and writer based in Providence, RI & Provincetown, MA. He teaches at Goddard College in the Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts program and in the Division of Liberal Arts at Rhode Island School of Design. Previously he was director of Rhode Island School of Design's Office of Public Engagement (2007-2011), and Associate Dean of the College and Director of Brown University’s Howard R. Swearer Center for Public Service (1988-2005). At the Swearer Center, he developed university-community partnerships, leadership education, undergraduate research opportunities, social entrepreneurship programs, and integrated community-learning with academic study. He was the founding board chair of New Urban Arts, a multidisciplinary youth arts center in Providence, and of Community MusicWorks, a youth music program in Providence. He’s also served on numerous other boards, including AIDS Project Rhode Island (chair), Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, The Providence Athenaeum, Southside Community Land Trust (chair), and Project Eye-to-Eye (founding board member). He was a founding co-chaired the Rhode Island Service Alliance, helping to establish the AmeriCorps program in Rhode Island. Most recently, he’s a founding board member of Provincetown Commons, Inc., an arts and economic development center. He has an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and an MFA in Creative Writing. He's represented by Four Eleven Gallery in Provincetown, MA

Adjunct Instructor in Early Education

Rebecca Holland is an adjunct instructor in the Early Education Program teaching Issues of Supervision. She attended Arcadia University, Cabrini College and Neumann University. She has a Master’s in Organizational Leadership.  She is licensed in real estate, an Associate Certified Coach, and a Pennsylvania Quality Assurance System (PQAS) trainer. 

Rebecca has taught Early Education Classes at Reading Community College and Chestnut Hill. She currently owns six childcare centers in Pennsylvania, which are active participants in the Keystone Stars program.  She has also owned childcare centers in Florida, which were accredited through the National Association of Early Young Children (NAEYC).
 
Rebecca’s goal is to teach and collaborate to inspire them to develop a successful academic career and maximize their personal and professional potential, with knowledge skills she has acquired.
 

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