Leonard and Ethel Landau Professor of Rabbinics, Director, Jewish-Christian Studies Program

Phone: 215-635-7300 x168

Email: [email protected]


Dr. Ruth N. Sandberg is Leonard and Ethel Landau Professor of Rabbinics at Gratz College, and is the Director of the graduate degree in Jewish-Christian Studies. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, and was recently appointed as the co-President of the Cheltenham Area Multifaith Council. Dr. Sandberg also teaches in the Gratz College Scholars Program for Adult Education. From 2006 to 2008, she served as Dean of Students at Gratz. Before coming to Gratz, Dr. Sandberg served for five years as Director of Education at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Sandberg received her BA in Classical Greek and History of Religion from Bryn Mawr College; Rabbinical Ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College; and a Ph.D. in Post-Biblical Hebrew Literature, specializing in Rabbinics, from the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Sandberg’s areas of special interest include: the relationship between Rabbinic Judaism and early Christianity; Jewish-Christian relations; early Rabbinic midrash; classical Rabbinic theology; and the process of Jewish law. Dr. Sandberg is the author of two books: Rabbinic Views of Qohelet (Mellen Biblical Press, 1999) and Development and Discontinuity in Jewish Law (University Press of America 2002). She has also contributed a chapter to The Words of the Wise Are Like Goads: Engaging Qoheleth in the 21st Century (2013).

Personal Statement

On Jewish-Christian Studies
There is a tremendous need for greater religious understanding between Jews and Christians, as well as broader academic knowledge in Jewish-Christian studies, and formally educated people are sorely needed for these challenges. The ultimate solution to creating interfaith understanding is through knowledge – being educated in your own tradition and learning about others’ faiths. No matter how much we may want to create peace between Jews and Christians or any other religious traditions, it is not possible without spending time really learning about each other’s beliefs and practices and accepting where we have true differences. No amount of good will can replace the gaping hole where ignorance resides. The process of acquiring knowledge is the way to prevent future religious bigotry, hatred, and violence.

On Studying Rabbinics
Studying Rabbinics is challenging, inspiring, thought-provoking, and often personally transforming. It is my personal goal to help students to understand the significance of the ancient Rabbinic teachings in the Talmud and midrashic texts and to guide students in their search to make the Rabbinic legacy meaningful and relevant for today.

Dr. Sandberg is married and has one daughter, Yonah.

Yael Sandler is a certified elementary educator and has been a Jewish educator for over twenty years. She holds a BA in Hebrew Literature from the Jewish Theological Seminary and a BA in Urban Politics from Barnard College. She earned her MA.Ed from Rosemont College. After several years working as an administrator for several major Jewish organizations in Philadelphia and as a Hebrew Ulpan teacher at Gratz College, she served as Head of Hebrew Language and Culture at the Solomon Charter School for one year until its closing in 2013. 

Yael was raised in Ardmore, PA and has lived and worked in Jerusalem, Montreal, and Highland Park, NJ. She currently resides in Bala Cynwyd with her four children and their cat Hamilton.  When not teaching, Yael enjoys cooking, reading, drawing and painting, and she has recently developed an interest in biking and skiing. 

Adjunct Instructor in Jewish Education

Dr. Jeffrey Schein is currently the director of the Text Me: Ancient Jewish Wisdom Meets Contemporary Technology project of the Covenant Foundation.  He is the senior education consultant for Jewish Education of the Mordecai M Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood and also a professor in the joint doctoral program in educational leadership of Hebrew College and Lesley College.

For twenty four years  he was a Professor and Director of the Education Department at the Laura and Alvin Siegal College of Judaic Studies in Cleveland where he taught and mentored over 100 graduate students who received their Masters’ degree in Jewish education.   He also served as the senior consultant to the Lekhu Lakhem project of the Mandel Jewish Center, a major initiative to change the Jewish character of eighteen JCC camps across North America through the professional development of their directors.  He served the Mandel foundation as a member of the visioning professors group convened to enlarge the uses of the groundbreaking Visions of Jewish Education volume (Fox, Marom, and Sheffler)

For seventeen years he served as the education director and then senior consultant for Jewish education to the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation.  For nine years he served on the faculty of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.  For three years he directed the Project Mishpacha initiative of the Greater Jewish community of Philadelphia and for three years he was the director of the Adolescent Initiative of the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland. He was the education director of Reform and Conservative synagogue programs for fifteen years.  

Within the Reconstructionist  community,  Dr. Schein is the founding Rabbi of congregation Kol HaLev, the Reconstructionist community of Cleveland. He was the first non-pulpit Rabbi to receive the Ira Eisenstein award for community service.  

Beyond the Reconstructionist community, Dr. Schein's leadership positions have included serving as national program chair for the Coalition for Alternatives in Jewish Education and President of the association for Institutions of Higher Jewish Learning of North America.

Dr. Schein is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (1977) and of the doctoral program in curriculum studies of Temple University (1980).   He is the author (or co-author) of the following works: Creative Jewish Education (Rossel books), Targilon: a Guide for Charting the Course of Jewish Family Education (JESNA  and JRF), Windows on the Jewish Soul (JRF), Growing Together: Resources, Programs and Experiences for Jewish Family Education (ARE/Behrman House), and most recently Kol Ha-No’ar: The Voice of Children (a prayer book for young children and their families, JRF) as well as numerous journal articles about Jewish, general, and religious education.

With his wife Deborah, an early childhood professor, he has developed a seminar series "The 100 Languages of Children Meet the 70 Faces of Torah" designed to create frameworks for learning across the Jewish life cycle. Together Jeffrey and Deborah presented the seminar as guest scholars for Leo Baeck College and the Jewish community of Great Britain in the spring of 2004, at Siegal College in 2009 and 2013, in West Palm Beach in 2009 and in Detroit in 2010.


Christine Schmidt holds a B.A. in History from the University of Michigan-Dearborn and a certificate in Museum Studies with special focus on exhibition development from The George Washington University. She earned her Ph.D. in History from Clark University (2003) in the first-ever doctoral program in Holocaust and genocide studies. Her research has focused on the history of Jewish daily life in hiding in south-central France. Schmidt's areas of special focus include Vichy France, twentieth-century European history, and comparative genocide. Her most recent research has focused on a comparative study of rescue and resistance under collaborationist regimes, namely Vichy France and Hungary during the Second World War. Schmidt has held two post-doctoral fellowships in Budapest, one from the Hungarian Ministry of Education and the other from the U.S. Fulbright Scholar exchange. She has worked as an applied researcher at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) and as the Director of Education at the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, for which she continues to consult on the development of pedagogical materials. At the USHMM, she conducted extensive research for and contributed dozens of entries to the recently published first volume of The Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945, which won the 2009 National Jewish Book Award. Schmidt is currently an adjunct Assistant Professor of History at the University of Maryland University College, and she serves as a consultant on various applied research projects and museum exhibitions.

Rabbi P.J. Schwartz is the Rabbi Educator at Congregation Shir Hadash in Los Gatos, CA. He was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-HIR) in Cincinnati, OH in June 2013 and was the recipient of the Ferdinand M. Isserman Prize awarded to the senior rabbinical student who best contributes to the development of community relations. While at HUC-JIR, P.J. served student congregations in Marion, Indiana, Ishpeming, Michigan, and Marion, Ohio. He also served in numerous capacities as a teacher, Schusterman Rabbinic Fellow, and Rabbinic Intern for Isaac M. Wise Temple where he taught Religious School and Hebrew School, led regular Saturday morning services and Torah study, and adult education. He also pursued Clinical Pastoral Education and trained as a chaplain for Christ Hospital in the summer of 2010 and a Rabbinic chaplain for Jewish Family Service in Cincinnati, OH. Rabbi Schwartz wrote his rabbinic thesis on the traditional and contemporary understandings of kavannah (intentionality, thoughtfulness, and devotion) in Jewish worship.

In addition to his studies at HUC-JIR, Rabbi Schwartz received a Master's in Educational Administration with a Specialization in Jewish Education at Xavier University. He is a frequent contributor to the Union of Reform Judaism's weekly e-newsletter, Ten Minutes of Torah and is an active member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the National Association of Temple Educators (NATE), and NewCAJE.

Rabbi Schwartz grew up in Greenville, SC and is a 2007 graduate of the College of Charleston, where he majored in Religious Studies. In college, he served as a board member of the Jewish Student Union/Hillel as well as was on the executive committee of the local chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity. He also was a teacher, assistant youth group advisor, and Religious Studies intern at Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim. Following his college graduation, P.J. began his rabbinical studies at HUC-JIR in Jerusalem, Israel, before returning to the Cincinnati campus to finish his studies.

Rabbi Schwartz is married to his college sweetheart, Michelle, a special education teacher.

Mollie Sharfman has been living and working in Jerusalem working with the Shalom Hartman Institute's Rabbinic and Christian Leadership Programs and the iEngage - Pluralistic Israel Education Curriculum. Alongside this work she also serves as the Director of Jewish and Religious Affairs for the Global Muslim-Jewish Conference. In addition, Mollie works as a consultant empowering and training Jewish educators who serve overlooked Global Jewish Communities. Mollie has led and created relevant Jewish experiences for all types of Jews and loves teaching and studying experiential education, design thinking, and adaptive leadership. She holds a masters in Jewish Experiential Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary and a B.A. in English Literature and Jewish Studies from Stern College for Women, Yeshiva University. 

Dr. Daniel Siegel has a passion for teaching all types of students in all walks of life. He has taught in a variety of environments from elementary students to top-level executives at Fortune 500 companies. As an instructional designer, Dr. Siegel has developed courseware for a variety of industries and government organizations such as the U.S. Navy, Stanford University, Disney, Home Depot, and the Department of Education. Making education fun through the implementation of gaming technology is a goal that he hopes to share with you. Dr. Siegel loves to play a variety of games and systems including World of Warcraft, Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, and Dungeons and Dragons in the endless pursuit of glory and treasure. He has also has a very understanding wife, three dogs, and a cat. He looks forward to learning, exploring and leveling with you!

Mark Snyder began educating in the high school English & Mathematics classroom in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and has also taught High School Special Education at Wordsworth Academy and a Cyber Charter High School.  He has since been teaching in the Temple University School of Education as well as Cabrini College.  He attended the University of Pennsylvania for his undergraduate work and completed his Masters in Special Education and PhD in Educational Psychology at Temple University.  His personal research interests consist of classroom assessment, teacher change, and post-secondary special education populations.  Mark hopes his courses help to make the research being done in education more accessible and relevant for the practitioners it is meant to inform. 
He lives in Abington with his wife and twin 3 year old daughters.

Dr. Spickermann is Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas Permian Basin, where he teaches courses ranging from modern Germany, modern Europe, and modern China to more thematic graduate courses on industrialization, democratization, and the Holocaust. A UC Berkeley graduate, he earned his PhD in German history at the University of Michigan in 1994. His doctorate concerned the interactions of state policy, ethnic rivalry, and political mobilization in an eastern frontier province of the German Empire. He is currently working on a quite different subject: a book on the history of adoption in 20th-century Germany. He is also the book review editor for Nationalities Papers, the journal of the Association for the Study of Nationalities, an organization specializing in the politics and history of Eastern Europe, the former Soviet sphere, and the Middle East.

Adjunct Instructor in Early Education

Rosalie St. Clair is an adjunct instructor in the Early Education Program teaching Play as the Foundation of Learning. She was originally from the Pittsburgh area and graduated from Indiana University of PA with a Bachelor of Science in El Ed, certified in PS through grade 8. Her graduate work was completed at Penn State.
Rosalie’s first teaching position was in Latrobe, PA—home of Mr. Rogers. Later she moved to Bedford, PA where she owned and taught in a private Kindergarten. She also taught ESEA reading and grade one in the district, and a career development course for Mt. Aloysius Junior College.
From there she moved back to western PA where she taught the grades 4-6 gifted program in Grove City Intermediate School.
Most recently, she worked at Kutztown University for ten years, teaching a variety of courses in both the early education and the grades 4-8 tract and also supervised professional field experiences and student teachers.

Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Associate Professor of History

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 215-635-7300 x 144

Dr. Michael C. Steinlauf holds an M.A. in Literature from Columbia University and a doctorate in Judaic Studies from Brandeis University. He is the author of Bondage to the Dead: Poland and the Memory of the Holocaust (1997), which examines how the experience of witnessing the Holocaust shaped Polish history and consciousness in the half century after World War II. He was a contributing editor to the YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe (Yale University Press, 2008), responsible for entries on theater and performance, and the editor of Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, v. 16 (2003), the first collection of studies focusing on Jewish popular culture in Poland and its contemporary afterlife. His writings have been translated into Polish, Hebrew, German and Italian. Professor Steinlauf has also been active in various kinds of Jewish memory work in Poland. He has lectured at the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival and the University of Warsaw, taught in the Musicians' Raft program organized by the Borderlands Foundation in Sejny, Poland, and served as chief historical advisor and curator of modern Jewish culture for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. He is currently at work on a study of the Yiddish writer and activist Y. L. Peretz. 

Keynote address at YIVO commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the death of Y. L. Peretz

Adjunct Professor of American Jewish History

Lance J. Sussman, Ph.D., is the Senior Rabbi of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, PA, and Adjunct Professor of American Jewish History at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion-New York. He is the author of numerous books and articles including Isaac Leeser and the Making of American Judaism and Sharing Sacred Moments, a collection of his sermons. An editor of Reform Judaism in America: A Biographical Dictionary and Source Book, Rabbi Sussman is a member of the Academic Advisory and Editorial Board of the American Jewish Archives (Cincinnati) and past chair of the Judaic Studies Department at Binghamton University B SUNY. He currently serves as the president of the Delaware Valley Association of Reform Rabbis, as a member of the Executive Council of the Philadelphia Board of Rabbis, and as a Trustee of the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.