Jenna Ferman's lifelong formal Jewish education and passion for Judaism led to her, “hopefully, first of many jobs in the field of being a Jewish professional.” Ferman has recently begun her work as the director of Jewish engagement at the Brody Jewish Center, Hillel at the University of Virginia.
After attending Jewish day school outside of Philadelphia, Ferman actively participated in Columbia/Barnard Hillel while she attended List College, the joint program between Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She found it to be an incredibly welcoming and inclusive community.
“You get to college freshman year, and you just want a place to feel safe, to feel welcome, to feel a part of something bigger than yourself” Ferman said. “For anyone who identifies as Jewish, Hillel can be, and I think should be, one of those places.”
Ferman said she decided to become a Hillel professional to contribute to fostering a Jewish space for students on campus. She said she feels fortunate to have had positive experiences in Jewish communities, and she wants to give back and help develop similar experiences for students.
Ferman spent a year teaching middle school English in Petach Tikvah, Israel through Masa Israel Teaching Fellows, and while in Israel, Ferman found out about an additional fellowship available to Masa Israel participants, the Masa-Hillel Fellowship, and she became a part of the 2017 cohort. The Masa-Hillel Fellowship is a professional development program designed to prepare participants for Hillel roles. Additionally, Ferman serves as a Hillel International Ezra Fellow where her role is to engage students in Jewish life by blending Jewish knowledge into conversations and programs.
The Ezra Fellowship is supported in part by the Maimonides Fund.
In her new position, Ferman is excited to help build a similar environment for Jewish students at UVA to the one she enjoyed in college. And in her capacity as Ezra Fellow, Ferman said her personal goal is to facilitate as much religious learning as she can on campus.