Amplifying Jewish voices
Leora Match, 24, wears many hats — singer-songwriter, Jewish educator, community builder.
Her unusual skillset helps her connect with Jewish students from diverse backgrounds at her alma mater, Towson University, where she serves as program director for Towson Hillel.
“My constant mantra is, ‘How can I amplify those around me?’ I want to help students hone their skills,” Match said.
Judaism was a cornerstone of her upbringing. A talented vocalist and pianist, Match was inspired to foster Jewish community in her native Pennsylvania by leading Shabbat services and tutoring bar/bat mitzvah students. She continued her involvement in Jewish life at Towson.
Some of her warmest college memories are the Friday nights she spent at Towson Hillel. Match led ruach-filled services, enjoyed a Shabbat meal with friends and organized Jewish song sessions long after most students said goodnight.
The remainder of her spare time was devoted to Patchwork Fools, an indie-pop band she started with her twin sister, Aviva, and two friends. With Match on vocals, keyboard and mandolin, the quartet performed their original music in cozy cafes and music halls stretching from Baltimore to Boston.
She became a literacy tutor for AmeriCorps after receiving her undergraduate degree in speech-language pathology and audiology. She helped struggling third graders in Baltimore City increase their reading speed from 12 words per minute to 136 words per minute.
When she wasn’t in the classroom, Match focused on building Jewish community for young adults. She and her current roommates, all three of whom she met at Towson Hillel, organized Shabbat dinners, holiday parties and other events through Moishe House Without Walls.
Nearing the end of her two-year program with AmeriCorps, she began looking for her next step as a young professional.
That search quickly led her back home to Towson Hillel.
She connected with Lisa Bodziner, executive director of Towson Hillel, at an alumni function and began thinking about a career in the Jewish world.
A position at Hillel that would allow her to combine some of her greatest passions — students, Judaism, community. She became a Jewish student life coordinator in August 2018, and she was promoted to program director just five months later.
Nowadays, she uses her musical background to strengthen her engagement strategy at Towson Hillel.
While brainstorming new methods to connect with students, Match thought back to her three-year stint with Patchwork Fools. She and her bandmates relied on “street teams,” fans who promote up-and-coming musicians, to create buzz about their performances.
That gave her an idea.
“A street team pumps up your music,” Match said. “These fans go ahead of you to this new place and spread flyers, social media hype and really just generate excitement around an event. Why not adapt it for a campus setting?”
The student leadership cohort at Towson Hillel has been using a street team model for the past eight months to create hype around student-run events and initiatives. When a student hosts an event, they recruit three or four peers to:
- Post about the event on social media
- Invite two or three of their friends
- Distribute flyers on campus
- Attend the event and be a welcoming presence
The model has proven successful with outings such as Good Deeds Day, where roughly 20 students scooped more than 1,000 pounds of trash out of Baltimore’s famous Inner Harbor, one of America’s oldest seaports.
“I’m here to offer support to our students and help their ideas come to fruition,” Match said. “Our work as Hillel professionals is never ending when it comes to supporting our students.”