Ilana M. Horwitz (Ph.D., Stanford University) is an Assistant Professor and the Fields-Rayant Chair of Contemporary Jewish Life at the Stuart and Suzanne Grant Center for the American Jewish Experience in the Department of Jewish Studies at Tulane University. Dr. Horwitz is also the Education Fellow at the Stanford Center on Longevity, and runs a PhD student mentorship program through the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis University.


Born in Russia, Dr. Horwitz immigrated to Philadelphia when she was seven years old as part of the Soviet Jewry Movement. Having grown in a country where Jews were persecuted, Dr. Horwitz had almost no exposure to Jewish traditions growing up. In Philadelphia, her family received significant help from different Jewish agencies and Jewish philanthropists, which allowed Dr. Horwitz to participate in Jewish schools, camps, and youth groups. In addition to learning about Judaism, Dr. Horwitz’s immersion in Jewish institutions required her to learn how to navigate a middle-upper class social world as a working-class immigrant. These early educational and social experiences had a profound impact on Dr. Horwitz and led to her eventual interest in sociology and education.


In her research, Dr. Horwitz takes a sociological approach to examine how people’s religious upbringing, race, ethnicity, social class, and gender shape their life course, especially their educational experiences. Her work takes a life course approach and follows people over time. Dr. Horwitz is especially interested in the period of adolescence (12-18 year olds) and emerging adulthood (18-25 year olds), and in families. Most of her research is based on quantitative and qualitative data, such as surveys and interviews. Dr. Horwitz teaches students to see the world through a sociological lens so they can recognize how issues of religion, social class, race, ethnicity, and gender shape Jews and non-Jews in the United States.


Dr. Horwitz’s forthcoming book, God Grades, and Graduation: Religion’s Surprising Impact on Academic Success, introduces readers to the concept of religious restraint, a new type of childrearing logic that cuts across social class groups and accounts for the role of religion. She also explains how different combinations of religious restraint, class, and gender shape the academic trajectory of teens from high school to college. Her scholarship has also appeared in Social Science Research, Contemporary Jewry, Review of Religious Research, and Jewish Social Studies. Dr. Horwitz is committed to making her research accessible, useful, and interesting to non-academic audiences. Her public opinion pieces have appeared in outlets like Inside Higher Education and Religion News Service.  


Dr. Horwitz earned her PhD in Sociology of Education & Jewish Studies from Stanford University. She also earned a Masters in International Education Development from Columbia University’s Teachers College, and a Bachelors in Business Administration from Emory University. She is a former Institute for Education Sciences fellow and Wexner/Davidson fellow, and worked for several years as a management consultant and program evaluator. She has also taught in several different contexts, including at Canada Community College. 


Dr. Horwitz can be reached at