Our Valuable Team Members


Dr. Kenneth W. Stein


Ken is the President of the Center for Israel Education (CIE) and the Director of the Emory Institute for the Study of Modern Israel (ISMI). Since 1977, he has taught modern Middle Eastern History, Political Science, and Israel Studies.

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The establishment of ISMI in 1998 was the first permanent Institute or Center in the U.S. created for the study of modern Israel. An off-shoot of ISMI, CIE was established in 2008. Ken is the author of four books, numerous papers and scholarly articles, whose expertise focuses on the origins of modern Israel, the conflict, Palestinian history, and U.S.-Israeli relations. Two of his books, The Land Question in Palestine, 1917-1939 (1984) and Heroic Diplomacy: Sadat, Kissinger, Carter, Begin and the Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace (1999) have remained standards in their fields. He is the recipient of awards at Emory for teaching excellence, life-long mentoring of students and for internationalizing the curriculum. Ken’s initiatives are responsible for bringing to Emory College ten visiting Israeli professors. His vision and execution are responsible for more than two dozen Center-sponsored workshops for students and educators about modern Israel. Educated at Franklin and Marshall College (BA) and the University of Michigan (two MA degrees and a doctorate in Middle Eastern History), he was an advanced graduate student at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In Spring 2006, he was a visiting professor of Political Science at Brown University. He is the primary content author of materials found on the website.


Roni Eshel

Assistant Director

Roni is a fourth generation Israeli, born in Tel Aviv. He holds a BA in Political Science and Economics from California State University; an MA in International Relations from UCLA and an MAAS in African Studies and Developing Nations.

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He is a member of the American Political Science Honor Society and worked for many years as an investigative reporter at the Israeli newspaper, Ma’ariv. He also served as assignment editor, news editor, and editor-in-chief of the newspaper’s seven Metro (daily and weekly) Editions. During this time, Roni was also a visiting lecturer in the History Department of Tel Aviv University. He later founded and managed a firm that specialized in advertising, public affairs, and political consultation. He regularly lectures on topics relating to modern Israeli society and politics. At the Institute and Center, Roni researches and writes papers, translates primary source documents from Hebrew to English and gives lectures at Center workshops and conferences. He is a specialist in the history of the Yishuv and modern Israel.


Richard Walter

Associate Director for Israel Education

Rich oversees the education and community-based work of CIE and ISMI, including developing curricula and lesson plans, and sharing strategies for teaching and their implementation. He engages the Atlanta Jewish community,

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congregations, and Jewish communities across the nation with Israel education initiatives. Receiving his BA in Politics and Near Eastern Judaic Studies and MA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University, Rich has extensive experience increasing community involvement in Jewish formal and informal learning for a wide variety of age groups. He has worked in almost all types of Jewish educational organizations over the course of his career. Prior to joining CIE and ISMI in August 2012, he served as Director for Jewish Life and Learning at the Jewish Federation and Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven, CT, and as Associate Executive Director for Education and Community Development at the Bureau of Jewish Education in Rhode Island. From 1997 to 2001, he taught at the Alperin Schechter Day School in Providence, RI.


Eli Sperling

Israel Specialist and Assistant Program Coordinator

Eli has been actively engaged in issues relating to Israel and the greater Middle East since the beginning of his under-graduate education at Evergreen in Olympia, WA. After receiving his BA in 

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Middle East Studies and Political Economy in 2006, he moved to Israel to pursue an MA in contemporary Middle Eastern History at Tel Aviv University. During his four and a half years in Tel Aviv, Eli worked as a research assistant to prominent Israeli scholar, Yosi Kostiner, and worked with numerous political and humanitarian organizations. He led student groups and other international delegations around Israel and spent two years researching the social, political and economic conditions of the Sinai Bedouin living in Dahab, Egypt. He is a fluent Hebrew speaker who also reads Arabic and has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East. Eli manages ISMI’s and CIE’s internship programs; writes, researches and edits materials released by the Center; gives presentations at CIE workshops and conferences; and contributes to the day-to-day operations of the Center.


Heather F. Waters

Office Manager

For eighteen years, Heather has worked with Ken Stein as an administrative assistant, program administrator, and now office manager. For the last eight years, she has been the primary organizer of the week-long pre-collegiate teacher Israel education workshops.

Consultants and Fellows


Dr. Tal Grinfas-David

Education Consultant

Tal is a Senior Curriculum Consultant at CIE. In July 2011, she became the Elementary School Principal of the Epstein School in Atlanta, GA. She earned her doctorate from Capella University in 2011 in curriculum and instruction,

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an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Administration from the University of Portland in 2006 with honors, a Bachelors of Education in the Advanced Teaching Certification Program focusing on English as second language at Beit Berl Teacher Education College, Kfar Saba, Israel from 1997-1999, and a B.A. from Boston University in 1995. In 2005, she came from the Portland Hebrew Academy to join the Emory Institute for the Study of Modern Israel as the senior curriculum designer. From 2005 to the present, she led and conducted the pedagogy portions of the ISMI/CIE one-week Israel Education Teacher Workshops.


Steven Kerbel

Principal, Steven Kerbel Educational Consulting

Steven Kerbel began consulting with CIE in 2015 on the Certificate in Israel Education Program (CIEP). He is the Principal of Steven Kerbel Educational Consulting in Rockville, Maryland.

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Before this, he served as Director of Education for Congregation B’nai Tzedek and Ohr Kodesh Congregation in Chevy Chase, Maryland for a combined 14 years. Prior to this Steve was the inaugural Retreat Director of Capital Camps & Retreat Center. Steve has also been a full-time faculty member at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville and an educational consultant to the Seaboard Region of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. Steve is currently a national vice president of the Jewish Educators Assembly, the organization of Conservative Movement Jewish educators.

In what seems like a different lifetime, Steve earned a law degree and was in the private practice of law for eight years. Steve is an alum of University of Maryland, College Park, where he met his wife, Judy, and they have two daughters. Among Steve’s consulting activities, he facilitates wine tastings featuring Israeli wines and teaches about the geography of diversity of Israel through its wines and wine makers.