Alumni & Student Profiles

Meet our Students

 

Ezra Balser ’17
College: York University
Major: Religious Studies

ezra balserWhat significant work experiences have you have had while attending rabbinical school?

I have had a number of jobs while in rabbinical school. The one I enjoyed most was teaching a class to the oldest age group at Camp Ramah in New England as part of my role as director of staff life. I loved being able to integrate my knowledge of camp life with my growing knowledge of Jewish texts.

What do you hope to do after graduation?

 I’d like to work with teens and young adults in some capacity, whether in a formal or informal setting. I want to help them see the positive power of our traditions, and how a Jewish lifestyle can be an awesome and fun lifestyle to choose.

How has Hebrew College prepared you to serve in the world as a rabbi?

 Studying at Hebrew College has helped me see our traditions and texts from many angles. I have been exposed to a variety of thinkers: they are my teachers, my peersand the authors on the pages of books we spend so much time discussing. The school has prepared me to explore Judaism with a huge spectrum of people, and that is the challenge of our times. We no longer live in insulated communities; we have to be able to reach the mixed multitudes that are in our midst.


Shahar Colt ’16
College: Barnard College
Major: American Studies

shahar coltWhat significant work experiences have you had while attending rabbinical school?

Two years ago, I began planning a teen beit midrash program. After a year and a half of networking, pitching the project, finding partners, doing outreach and publicity, and developing a curriculum, the program opened its doors this past October. Starting and running the program has been a great learning opportunity; I’ve benefitted from an incredible team of advisers. Moreover, I’ve been able to hone my teaching skills more than at any time since doing my teacher training six years ago.

What do you hope to do after graduation?

 I hope to work as a rabbi with many opportunities to teach, formally and informally. My goal is to share my love of Jewish life and learning in ways that will help people find their own meaning within the tradition and Jewish lenses on life.

How has Hebrew College prepared you to serve in the world as a rabbi?

I have been exposed to a whole new range of Jewish text and tradition, and have reached a significantly different relationship to Jewish prayer from when I started rabbinical school. I’ve also noticed myself becoming more in tune with the Jewish calendar. Being in school with such bright, committed, and careful thinkers has allowed me to explore a wide range of conversations about Jewish life and practice in exciting and new ways. Looking to the future, Hebrew College has provided me with an outstanding support network of amazing colleagues.


Elie Lehmann ’17
College: Columbia University and Jewish Theological Seminary
Major: Religion and Rabbinic Literature

 elie lehmannWhat significant work experiences did you have before coming to Hebrew College, and how did they help inform your decision to attend rabbinical school? 

Prior to rabbinical school, I studied for two years at Yeshivat Hadar and then spent a year abroad working with grassroots organizations in Burma and Kenya. My time at Hadar really grounded me in serious "lishma" learning and also gave me the opportunity to help teach "tanakh" and rabbinics to middle-schoolers and to visit with nursing-home patients. My experiences there learning, teaching and building community helped me realize that I could make a career in the rabbinate combining those three passions. As Rabbi Yitz Greenberg says, there is no better way to recognize someone’s infinite value than to share of yourself with them. That’s what I tried to do during my year abroad. I came to realize that Hebrew College was the only rabbinical school that could nurture a similar feeling within me. 

What do you hope to do after graduation? 

I hope to work with young adults on a college campus. Attending college is the activity that Jews do more than anything else, so it’s the perfect opportunity to engage large numbers of Jews with real depth. I hope to help students deepen their Jewish identity and Jewish confidence by teaching them how their Judaism can inform questions that come up in the classroom and dorm room. 

How has Hebrew College prepared you to serve in the world as a rabbi? 

Judaism is central to the lives of each and every student at Hebrew College, and yet it looks quite different person to person. Learning from teachers and with students who come from very different Jewish backgrounds and interests than my own has helped me gain the language and resources to have productive and meaningful encounters with Jews from across the spectrum. Hebrew College has broadened my perspective of meaningful Jewish expressions and helps me to engage others from where they are comfortable.

 


 

Meet Our Alumni: Creating and Sustaining Change Around the World

Reshaping Day-School Curricula

sara meirowitzSara Meirowitz ’13
Co-director, Beit Midrash
Gann Academy 
Waltham, Mass.

Sara Meirowitz is on the vanguard of day-school education. At Gann Academy, a pluralistic Jewish high school outside Boston, Meirowitz is a core part of the Judaic studies team that is pioneering a new approach to Jewish learning. As co-director of the school’s beit midrash program, she is helping to implement a revamped curriculum that provides students with a base of meaningful Jewish literacy while giving them the flexibility to pursue their Jewish passions. Meirowitz brings to the position a strong background in traditional text study, honed through more than two decades of study in day schools, adult-learning programs, and rabbinical school. A graduate of Yale University, she is a gifted writer, editor, teacher, and poet. She spent several years studying in yeshivot in Israel and teaching in Jewish institutions in Israel and the United States.

 


Advancing Social Justice

marjorie ronksinMargie Klein Ronkin ’11 
Director, Clergy and Leadership Development
ECCO
Lynn, Mass.

 Margie Klein Ronkin is one of the country’s leading young Jewish advocates for social activism and community building. In 2005, she founded the Moishe/Kavod House in Brookline, Mass., a community of 600 Jews in their 20s and 30s dedicated to progressive social change. Ronkin also founded and led the get-out-the-vote organization Project Democracy. Today, she serves as director of clergy and leadership for the Essex County Community Organization and as spiritual leader of Congregation Sha’arei Shalom in Ashland, Mass. Ronkin describes her work as creating “authentic relationships,” and supporting others to do the same. “It is through these relationships that we find God,” she says, “and where, I would argue, we find the power to transform ourselves and the world for the better.”

 

 


Filling a Void in Israel

lila veissidLila Veissid ’11
Rabbi
Kibbutz Ha-Ma’apil
Hadera, Israel 

Rabbi Lia Veissid serves as the Rabbi on Kibbutz Ha-Ma'apil in her native Israel, where she lives with her husband, Yossi, and their daughters Alma (18) and Ella (13). The kibbutz (population 800), is located in Emek Hefer, in central Israel. Founded in 1945 by the very secular members of Ha-Shomer Ha-Tzair movement, the kibbutz has gone through many changes in recent years, and is now more open to embrace religious and cultural aspects of Judaism it previously shunned. Rabbi Lila leads Kabbalat Shabbat and festival services for her community. She provides pastoral counseling, teaches classes on Judaism, and works with the younger children's groups around the holidays. As of last year, Rabbi Lila serves as the Regional Rabbi for the Emek Hefer communities for the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism. She facilitates life-cycle events on her kibbutz as well as in other communities in the region, and works with B'nai Mitzvah groups and with many boys and girls who choose to have a Torah-reading ceremony. Rabbi Lila is a member of Shomrei Mishpat - Rabbis for Human Rights. She is an active member of Zayit, a local Jewish renewal organization, engaging in projects of learning and celebration for the entire population of the Hefer Valley, young and old, traditional and secular. Rabbi Lila feels that her years at RSHC not only provided her with knowledge of text and music, but also strengthened her belief in community action, in pluralism and in the possibility to make change happen.

 


Engaging College Students

getzel davisGetzel Davis ’13
Associate Rabbi and Jewish Educator
Harvard Hillel
Cambridge, Mass.

Getzel Davis stands at the forefront of a national movement that seeks to welcome college students more fully into Jewish living. With passion and wisdom honed during his years at Hebrew College, Davis reaches out to non-Orthodox students and those who have yet to find their way to Judaism. “My goal,” he says, “is to regularly interrupt people’s lives with moments of meaning, connection, and liberation.” That could mean teaching classes with clever names like Shal-Om and Jew Curious, or counseling students in need. The work is most rewarding, he says, when he helps students “take risks to aid in their own growth and to strengthen the good of the world.”

 


 

Thinking about a career in the rabbinate?

 Read Rabbi Dan Judson's article "Jewish Lessons on Meaningful Work" for some helpful advice about finding meaning in your work.


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