Making History in Jewish Childhood and Special Education

A New Graduate Program Prepares Jewish Educators To Support Children with Special Needs

June 01, 2021
Jeffrey Lichtman
Jeffrey Lichtman

The new graduate program in Jewish Childhood Education and Special Education at Touro College is the first and only in the nation leading to state licensure in both childhood education and special education. The program launched in fall 2019. Of the first cohort, four students will graduate in June 2021.

More than 300,000 children attend nearly 800 Jewish day schools across the United States. The national teacher shortage crisis is even more exacerbated by a significant shortage of highly-trained and qualified educators in Judaic studies. Touro’s new graduate program is designed for anyone who wants to enhance their teaching career—whether in the first years of their careers, or for those who have more significant teaching experience, and are especially interested in being able to work effectively with a wide range of students. Graduates will be prepared to serve and educate children with a variety of special needs—mild to significant learning and intellectual disabilities as well as those on the autism spectrum. Our candidates are prepared to work effectively in mainstream and special education yeshivas (Jewish Day Schools) such as Ivdu, an elementary and high school that serves a wide range of children with different needs in Brooklyn and Long Island, New York, as well as in public schools.

“Our goal in offering this program in Jewish Childhood Education and Special Education is to give those who teach children with special needs the tools to provide their students with a proper Jewish education,” said Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, professor and Lucille Weidman Chair of the program. He has outlined three key objectives for the new program: 1) to provide highly trained teachers to teach in Jewish Day Schools and other settings; 2) to offer a wide range of professional development opportunities supplemental to the master’s degree program; and 3) to grow enrollment in the program. For example, Lichtman partners with the New York-based Consortium of Jewish Day Schools and Torah Umesorah to host conferences and symposiums and to develop a certificate program in educational technology coaching and online instruction. Lichtman adds, “Our program will train and empower those outstanding educators to lead the way in transforming Jewish Education so that every child thrives.”