Dr. Erica Brown appointed as Director of YU's Sacks-Herenstein Center

November 23, 2021
Dr. Erica Brown Headshot

Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University, announced today the appointment of Dr. Erica Brown as Vice Provost of Values and Leadership and inaugural Director of the Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks Center for Values and Leadership, founded by Terri and Andrew Herenstein.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Erica Brown to our stellar leadership team as a key partner in advancing Yeshiva University forward into its next great era,” said Dr. Berman in making the announcement. “As a celebrated alumna of our institution, devoted student of Rabbi Sacks, and an internationally renowned educator, author, speaker and scholar, Dr. Brown both exemplifies our core values and lives our mission of educating the leaders of tomorrow.”

An alumna of Stern College for Women, Dr. Brown brings over three decades of exceptional communal leadership experience. She most recently served as director of the Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership and associate professor of curriculum and pedagogy at The George Washington University. For her visionary work in education, Dr. Brown was selected as a Jerusalem Fellow, an Avi Chai Fellow, and awarded the 2009 Covenant Award. Her writing has appeared in outlets such as The New York TimesFirst Things, and The Atlantic, and her numerous books on the Bible, Jewish thought, and leadership are read by countless worldwide.

Dr. Brown will mentor students and early-career professionals, integrate YU’s core Torah values throughout the University and public programming, as well as design leadership initiatives and curricula based on Rabbi Sacks’ teachings and writings. She will also help grow the next generation of Jewish educators as an associate professor teaching at the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration.

Dr. Brown assumes her new position at Yeshiva University on January 1, 2022.

“The Torah gives us an outstanding blueprint to become a community bound by a sacred covenant. Being appointed Vice Provost and Director of the new Sacks-Herenstein Center is an opportunity of a lifetime to strengthen that covenant,” Dr. Brown said. “In this new role, I intend to introduce a number of cohort-based leadership programs on the undergraduate and graduate level, to organize public lectures and conferences with a focus on leadership and values, and to amplify the current work of students and faculty in these arenas. To be able to do this work to honor the legacy of my teacher and mentor, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, is a remarkable and humbling privilege. To return to Yeshiva University is a true homecoming.”

In welcoming Dr. Brown to the new center, Terri Herenstein shared that “Dr. Brown’s work and mentorship has inspired communal, business, and political leaders around the world. She is both a sophisticated scholar and programmatic visionary, and we are very excited to see the impact she will have in conveying Rabbi Sacks’ teachings to future generations of students and leaders.”

Dr. Brown has degrees from Yeshiva University, University of London, Harvard University and Baltimore Hebrew University. She previously served as the scholar-in-residence at both the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston and as the community scholar for the Jewish Center of New York. She currently serves as a community scholar for Congregation Etz Chaim in Livingston, NJ. 

Her latest book, a National Jewish Book Award finalist, is Esther: Power, Fate and Fragility in Exile (Maggid/Koren). Dr. Brown is also the author of Happier Endings: A Meditation on Life and Death, which won both the Wilbur and Nautilus awards for spiritual writing and Take Your Soul to Work (Simon and Schuster). She wrote Seder Talk: A Conversational HaggadahLeadership in the WildernessIn the Narrow Places, and Return: Daily Inspiration for the Days of Awe (Maggid/OU). Her previous books also include Inspired Jewish Leadership, a National Jewish Book Award finalist, Spiritual BoredomConfronting Scandal, and she co-authored The Case for Jewish Peoplehood (Jewish Lights). She is currently writing a commentary on Kohelet/Ecclesiastes for Maggid and is co-authoring a teen leadership manual with Behrman House.