OU’s Center for Communal Research Expands Professional Team to Better Identify Needs of Importance to the Jewish Community

06 Nov 2020

The Orthodox Union’s (OU) Center for Communal Research has appointed Guila Benchimol Ph.D., Adina Bankier-Karp Ph.D. and Barak Hagler to its professional team as it expands its work in studying the issues of importance to the Jewish community and creating programming to better serve its constituents.

Benchimol returns to the Orthodox Union as a principal researcher after serving as a senior advisor on research and learning with the Safety Respect Equity Network (SRE), a Jewish network of over 125 organizations committed to creating safe, respectful, equitable workplaces and communal spaces in North America. As a researcher and public educator on sexual violence, she has crafted standards and policies for Jewish workplaces, institutions and communal spaces. Benchimol has been invited to address Jewish professionals, lay leaders and clergy across Canada and the United States, as well as other faith communities. She received her doctorate in sociological criminology and her master’s degree in criminology and criminal justice policy from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. She resides with her family in Toronto.

Bankier-Karp joins from the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilization at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. There, she studied the interconnected effects of Jewish education, family upbringing and critical Jewish experiences in shaping a connection with Jewish identity. She received her doctorate in Jewish education and master’s degree in Jewish studies at Monash University. She resides with her family in Melbourne.

Hagler is a recent graduate of the Center for Communal Research’s college internship program. He received his bachelor’s degree from Yeshiva University in economics with a concentration in mathematics. He resides in Manhattan with his wife.

“As we look toward the future of the Jewish community and of our organization, it is important that we create programming that is meaningful and critical to our community. The expansion of the OU’s Center for Communal Research enables us to do so based on facts, not anecdotes, which will lead to stronger programming that targets gaps in our community,” said OU Executive Vice President Rabbi Moshe Hauer.

“In our constantly evolving world, it is imperative that we consistently re-evaluate the realities and challenges of the community so that our programs and efforts will be most relevant and effective,” said OU President Moishe Bane. “In the few years since its launch, the Center for Communal Research has provided the OU with data necessary to carry out our mission and with additional team members, will be able to do even more and make a greater impact.”

“One of the things that makes the Center exceptional is our ability to attract outstanding researchers with experience in studying some of the most important issues affecting our community. We are proud of the high standards our program maintains that attract people like Guila, Adina and Barak to our team,” said OU Center for Communal Research’s Founding Director Matt Williams. “Their experience and insight will help us continue to identify the opportunities and challenges our community faces and develop recommendations to remedy those situations.”

Founded in 1898, the Orthodox Union, (OU), serves as the voice of American Orthodox Jewry, with over 400 congregations in its synagogue network. As the umbrella organization for American Orthodox Jewry, the OU is at the forefront of advocacy work on both state and federal levels, outreach to Jewish teens and young professionals through NCSY, Israel Free Spirit Birthright, Yachad and OU Press, among many other divisions and programs.