Text and Tradition

An immersive, cohort-based literacy initiative for professionals working in Jewish nonprofits interested in expanding their knowledge of Jewish texts, Jewish values, and Jewish history.


The Initiative

Text and Tradition is an immersive, cohort-based literacy initiative for professionals, Jewish and non-Jewish, working in Jewish nonprofits.

The initiative creates a dynamic space for professional leaders who have critical role in shaping the culture and environment of their workplaces but lack the requisite Jewish knowledge to feel culturally competent and comfortable.

The program begins with a five-day retreat, May 31-June 4, 2020, and continues with follow-up webinars once a month through December 2020.

Participants in this initiative will develop an emerging understanding of the following:

  • Foundational Jewish Texts including Biblical narratives, the Talmud, and rabbinics as well as contemporary texts.
  • Major Figures in Jewish History spanning from Moses to Maimonides, R. Yochanan ben Zakkai to Golda Meir.
  • The Jewish Calendar Year covering the rituals associated with Shabbat and holidays.
  • Jewish Law including kashrut (dietary laws), prayer, and laws related to contemporary issues like business and medicine.
  • Jewish Values and their Application at Work encompassing the laws of tzedaka (charity), tikkun olam (social justice), forgiveness, and office gossip.
  • Contemporary Jewish American Life covering Jewish identity, denominations, Israel/Diaspora relations, and interfaith issues. 


For questions or more information, please contact Dr. Erica Brown at ericabrown@gwu.edu.



Candidates for the Text and Tradition Initiative must be nominated by their organizations to participate. The initiative begins with a five day retreat, May 31-June 4, 2020, at the Pearlstone Retreat Center in Reisterstown, Maryland that all participants are required to attend in person. 

Tuition, room, and board for participants is $3500. Generous scholarships are available to offset tuition. Candidates are encouraged to seek sponsorship from their nominating organizations. 

The following are the forms required to apply:

a) The candidate application form 
b) The organization nomination form

Application and nomination forms will be accepted on a rolling basis.


For questions or more information, please contact Dr. Erica Brown at ericabrown@gwu.edu.



1. I have no Jewish background. Is this program for me?

Yes, please join us! We make no assumptions of previous knowledge and will aim to present all content in a way that invites questions and exploration in a safe and welcoming space.

2. I have some Jewish background. Is this program for me?

It depends. Many nonprofit professionals attended Hebrew school and camp but were never taught the rudiments of Jewish history or how to analyze a text or why Jewish texts and values are even important. If that sounds like your experience, let's talk. 

3. Do I have to be Jewish to apply for Text and Tradition?

No. You don't have to be Jewish to participate in Text and Tradition. You just have to be curious. We are grateful to all of those who work in Jewish nonprofits and want to make sure that non-Jewish colleagues feel well-informed about the Jewish aspects of their nonprofit work.

4. Is this a leadership course?

While this is a course for leaders, it is not a leadership course. Text and Tradition is an immersive program in Jewish literacy. It may have lots of leadership applications to one's work but the focus in the program is on Jewish knowledge. The course is designed for leaders on the premise that if Jewish content is important to those leading the organization, it will be integral to the culture of the organization. 

5. If I can't attend the full retreat, should I still apply?

No. As a cohort-based initiative, we are interested in all participants networking and forming meaningful professional ties. This is best accomplished through commitment. As a leader, we know you're busy and it's hard to make time, but if your schedule does not permit full participation at the retreat, please consider applying to the program next year.

6. What if I can't afford to attend?

The course cost of the program is highly subsidized and covers the retreat facilities, catering, instructors, other personnel, and materials. We expect that the nonprofit nominating the candidate will pay for most, if not all, of the tuition as part of the professional development of its senior leadership or onboarding process. Generous scholarships are also available. If funding is an issue, please contact us to see how we can make this work.



For questions or more information, please contact Dr. Erica Brown at ericabrown@gwu.edu.


RETREAT LOCATION (May 31-June 4, 2020)

Pearlstone Conference & Retreat Center

5425 Mt Gilead Rd

Reisterstown, MD 21136


(443) 273-5101


For questions or more information, please contact Dr. Erica Brown at ericabrown@gwu.edu.

This program is generously funded with grants from the Covenant and Aviv Foundations. 

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