By Jonah Lowenfeld
Los Angeles Jewish Journal
In the fall of 2007, then-rabbinical student Shmuly Yanklowitz traveled with a few of his colleagues from the Modern Orthodox Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in New York to San Diego. Wildfires had just burned through 500,000 acres and destroyed more than 1,500 homes. "I didn't know what we were going to do," Yanklowitz said at the time. "I just knew that we had to be there."
By that point, a camera crew had been following Yanklowitz for months, shooting footage for what would become part of "The Calling," a four-hour television documentary premiering on PBS on Dec. 20 and 21. The film follows seven young clergy members from four different religious groups through their training. Shot over 18 months, it offers a behind-the-scenes look at the moving and trying process of becoming a religious leader.
Yanklowitz, now 29, was ordained as a rabbi earlier this year and has taken a position as the Senior Jewish Educator at the Hillel at UCLA. In the second two-hour segment of "The Calling," viewers meet this tall, preternaturally smiling, Modern Orthodox rabbinical student and watch as he spends some of his time on screen doing things that many such students do poring over pages of Talmud, facilitating discussions with teenagers on a summer program, trying (and failing) to address a congregation whose members are more interested in noshing and schmoozing than in listening to words of Torah.
From the Los Angeles Jewish Journal.