Rabbi Owen Gottlieb is the Founder and Director of ConverJent which nurtures, develops, and spreads Jewish Games for Learning. Founded in 2010, ConverJent is incubated at Clal in Manhattan and has been awarded a PresenTense NYC Fellowship.
In 2012, ConverJent received a Signature Grant from the Covenant Foundation to fund the design and development of a digital mobile game/simulation for teaching Jewish history. That project, Jewish Time Jump: New York has been nominated for “Most Innovative” game of 2013 by the Games for Change Festival.
Rabbi Gottlieb is a Jim Joseph Fellow and Ph.D. candidate at NYU in Education and Jewish Studies specializing in Digital Medial and Games for Learning and is a HASTAC Scholar. His dissertation research is in mobile gaming for cultural transmission and increasing subject matter interest (specifically, in modern Jewish history).
Gottlieb has presented at conferences and seminars including the Network for Research in Jewish Education, Games + Learning +Society Conference, Religion in the Digital Age, NYU’s Center for Religion and Media, Judaism 2030, and Rabbis Without Borders.
With an eclectic background prior to the rabbinate, Rabbi Gottlieb has worked in project management of Internet software for companies including Disney and screen and teleplay writing for Paramount and Universal. He has taught dance in Israel, and served for many years as a liaison for film directors at Telluride Film Festival.
Rabbi Gottlieb has served as a student rabbi at Temple Beth Am, in Monessen PA, Temple Shaaray Tefila in Manhattan, and a rabbinic resident at the URJ Press. While studying to become a rabbi, Owen taught religious school for four years at Central Synagogue in Manhattan, where he piloted the teaching of modern Hebrew to seventh graders using Israeli teen-television.
In 2012, through ConverJent, he taught Game Design for Torah for fifth graders at East End Temple in Manhattan. In 2013, he is overseeing a digital mobile Jewish Games for Learning design course at Temple Israel of the City of New York’s Junior Academy.
Rabbi Gottlieb holds an AB from Dartmouth College, and MA from USC Cinema-Television. He received an MAHL and rabbinical ordination from HUC-JIR, New York. He is a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Writers Guild of America, West, and the International Game Developers Association. He blogs at www.mysticalcreative.com.
Selected publications and press (see ConverJent’s newsfeed for the latest):
Huffington Post Article and Video: Torah Games? Bringing Torah to Life Through Game Design by Joshua Stanton
Covenant Foundation Signature Grant Award Announcement for ConverJent
Sh’ma Article: Video Games, Game Design, and 21st-Century Jewish Education
Moving Beyond the Limited Reach of Current "Social Media" Approaches: Why Jewish Digital Communities Require Rich and Remixable Narrative Content
You Can’t Wrap Herring in an iPad: Digitization of Sacred Jewish Books, the Stripping of Embodied Ritual, and Implications for Jewish Education