Valerie Thaler, Ph.D. became the Temple Administrator in March 2018. She brings to Har Sinai Congregation considerable background in outreach, community building and educational programming as well as a passion for Jewish history.
Valerie grew up in Norristown, Pennsylvania, just northwest of Philadelphia. She attended Yale University for her B.A. in American Studies, from which she graduated magna cum laude and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Immediately after college, she spent a year in Israel as a Dorot Foundation fellow, studying at Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and working in the Education Department of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
A recipient of a Wexner Graduate Fellowship in Jewish Education, Valerie pursued an M.A. in Jewish Communal Service/Education and Judaic Studies at Brandeis. From 1998 to 2000, Valerie worked for the Jewish Federation for Greater New Haven as Director of Special Programs, where she directed the Holocaust Education/Prejudice Reduction Program, designed curriculum for the local Hebrew High School, MAKOM, and ran MIDRASHA, a new adult learning program involving several area synagogues.
Valerie returned to Yale in 2000 to pursue a Ph.D. in Jewish history. She was fortunate to be able to study once again under the direction of Professor Paula Hyman (z’l), completing a dissertation in American Jewish history. Her dissertation focused on American Jewish identity in the post-World War II era, using Philadelphia Jewish institutions as case studies for understanding broader trends.
After completion of her doctoral studies in 2008, Valerie moved to Maryland to work at Baltimore Hebrew University as Assistant Professor of American Jewish Studies. She taught graduate students courses in American Jewish history and contemporary Jewish life. After BHU’s merger with Towson University in 2009, Valerie joined the College of Liberal Arts at Towson University, where she worked until 2014 teaching undergraduate and graduate students. Since then she has taught Jewish history at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School; worked at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, and in several contract writing positions both inside and outside the Jewish world.
The Thaler family joined Har Sinai Congregation in August 2017, and Valerie became Youth Engagement Coordinator in November. Her husband, Alex, teaches science at Krieger Schechter Day School and her daughter Sabrina is a student at Franklin Middle School. In her spare time, Valerie loves spending time with family and their dog Peanut, visiting extended family out of town, singing, playing the cello, and dabbling in various crafts.
Valerie is thrilled to be serving Har Sinai Congregation in this new capacity.