Rabbi Michael Shire, PhD

michael shire

Rabbi Michael Shire, PhD
Chief Academic Officer
Dean and Professor of the Shoolman Graduate School of Jewish Education
and Jewish Studies at Hebrew College
mshire@hebrewcollege.edu  | 617-559-8617

Philosophy of Religious Education and Spiritual Development in Jewish Education


  • Hon. Doctorate, Jewish Religious Education, Hebrew Union College
  • Doctorate in Jewish Education, Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles
  • Rabbinical Ordination, Leo Baeck College, London
  • MA Jewish Studies, Leo Baeck College, London
  • MA Jewish Education, Hebrew Union College, New York
  • BA Hons. Hebrew Literature and Jewish History, University College London



Involvement in Graduate Education

"I feel privileged to nurture, support and guide individuals seeking to develop their enhancement in professional learning and academic inquiry as part of their commitment to serve the Jewish community and the wider goals of religious and spiritual development for all. Graduate studies involves a rigour and discipline but also a creativity and sense of play that needs to be nourished and deepened. The openness of Hebrew College with its ethos of pluralism, spiritual exploration, dedication to study and debate provides a fertile learning environment in which academic, professional and spiritual growth can flourish."


Michael Shire grew up in Birmingham England and completed his BA Hons in Hebrew Literature and Jewish History at University College London. He continued his studies at Hebrew Union College both in New York and Los Angeles completing a MA and PhD in Jewish Education. His research work, later to be published, proposed a curriculum orientation for spiritual enhancement in Jewish Educational settings. He concurrently served as Director of Education at Temple Beth Hillel, a large Reform synagogue in North Hollywood, California. On returning to Great Britain in 1988, he took up the post as National Director of the Centre of Jewish Education developing the infrastructure, day schools and professional and academic learning of Jewish Education in the UK. Following further study, he was ordained as rabbi at Leo Baeck College in 1996. In 2001, he merged the Centre of Jewish Education with the rabbinic training school, Leo Baeck College and became its Vice-Principal for a further eleven years. He became the Professor and Dean of the Shoolman Graduate School of Jewish Education in 2011 and subsequently was appointed Chief Academic Officer of Hebrew College in 2015. He has been widely published in the field of Jewish Education and Spiritual Education. In addition, he has published four books of creative liturgy with medieval illuminations in association with the British and Bodleian Libraries. He is founder of the Torah Godly Play pedagogic methodology and serves as the chair of ALOHA, the Association of Institutions of Graduate Jewish Education. 

Current Research

Current research includes an investigation into the state of the field of graduate Jewish Education on behalf of ALOHA, the association of institutions of Graduate Jewish Education. Also investigating the impact of the work of Torah Godly Play on the spiritual life of young children and researching the factors contributing to the development of the rabbinic role.

Current Professional Appointment

Chair of ALOHA: Association of Institutions of Graduate Jewish  Education in United States and Canada


  • Philosophies of Education and Leadership in Jewish Thought and Practice 
  • Spiritual Development in Jewish Education 
  • Graduate Research Seminar: Jewish Education
  • Adult Learning:  People of the Book

Selected Publications

Books and Chapters 

  • Editor, CCAR Journal, Sacred Teaching and Spiritual Learning. Winter 2014 and Spring 2014
  • Nurturing the Spiritual in Jewish Education in J.Kress, Ed. Spirituality, Social and Emotional Learning in Jewish Education, Union of Reform Judaism, 2012.
  • Jewish Ways of Learning in P.Jarvis, Ed. The Routledge International Handbook of Learning, Routledge, 2011.
  • The Spiritual Child and Jewish Childhood in H. Miller et al, Ed. International Handbook of Jewish Education, Springer 2011.
  • Editor, CCAR Journal, Finding our Path: Becoming a Rabbi after Ordination. Winter 2011.
  • A Jewish Theology of Childhood in Johnson, Yust and Sasso, Ed. Religious Perspectives on Spirituality in Childhood and Adolescence, Rowman and Littlefield, 2006.
  • Education of the Spirit in S. Blumberg and R. Goodman, Ed. Teaching about God and Spirituality, ARE. 2003.
  • Mazal Tov: The Rituals and Customs of a Jewish Wedding, Frances Lincoln (UK) and Stuart, Tabori and Chang (USA), 2003.
  • The Jewish Prophet, Frances Lincoln (UK) & Jewish Lights (USA), 2002.
  • L’Chaim: A Guide to the Blessings and Prayers that Guide our Faith, Frances Lincoln (UK) & Chronicle (USA), 2000 (Co-productions in Germany and Holland).
  • The Illuminated Haggadah, Frances Lincoln (UK) & Stuart, Tabori and Chang (USA), 1998 (Co-productions in Germany, Holland, France, Russia and Israel).


  • Book Review of A. Kosman, Men’s World in European Judaism, 12/1 Vol. 45 2012 
  • Jewish Schools and Learning in European Judaism 12/1 Vol. 45 2012 
  • The Jewish Religious Nature of the Child in HaYidion, Winter 2011
  • Leo Baeck and Oppeln, Poland in Manna Spring 2011
  • Rabbinic Training and the Interfaith Imperative in Open Theology No. 11 December 2011
  • Nurturing the Spiritual in Jewish Education in HaYidion, Winter 2010
  • Judaism between the Covers in Manna 105, Autumn 2009
  • Fighting Back in Manna 102, Winter 2009
  • Leo Baeck looks at God and Menschen, Manna, Number 95, Spring 2007.
  • Enhancing Religiosity in Jewish Education, CCAR Journal, Winter 1998
  • Jewish Spiritual Development and Curriculum Theory, The International Journal of Children's Spirituality, Vol 2 No 2, December 1997

Recent Presentations

  • Regular presenter at Limmud UK and Limmud Boston.
  • Keynote Speaker, Institute of Southern Jewish Life, Education Conference, Jackson, Miss. July 2016
  • The Spiritual Child and Jewish Childhood, The Religious Education Association Convention, Denver 2010
  • Lily Montagu, University of Birmingham Faiths’ conference on Women, 2009
  • The Spiritual Child, Network for Research in Jewish Education, Yeshiva University 2009
  • The Spiritual thinking Child, Philosophy for Children conference, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, June 2007
  • Theological Education, TRES conference, Cluj Napoca , Romania,  May 2007