I’m Nicole Samuel, research associate at CMJS. My research portfolio includes Jewish identity, Jewish education, and communal organizations. As a researcher, I’ve had different opportunities to do fieldwork, including spending several weeks in summers 2007 and 2008 traveling to Jewish overnight camps. I didn’t attend overnight camp as a child, but I think I made up for it with my field work. I saw the power of experiential Jewish education and learned how friendships at camp translate into life-long social networks. I observed campfires, Shabbat under the stars and even a production of “High School Musical” in Hebrew. I spoke with Israeli emissaries who were learning about the diversity of Jewish life in America and counselors who were deciding to dedicate their careers to Jewish education, and specifically, overnight camp.
Most recently I co-authored Engaging Jewish Teens: A Study of New York Teens, Parents, and Practitioners. The study is the first broad-based research on Jewish teens in over ten years. The research triangulates the views of teens, their parents, and the professionals who work with them. Also among my publications is a study of the shortage of fundraisers in the Jewish community.
My current projects focus on Israel Studies, and specifically, how college students learn about and understand Israel in courses at universities across the United States. Over the last two years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to seven college campuses. I’ve enjoyed sitting in on classes and speaking with professors and students and learning more about the current state of Israel studies in the United States.