From Hillel to HUC-JIR: Growing into Jewish Leadership



July 13, 2023

My path to rabbinical school at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC) and my journey in Jewish leadership began as a student at American University Hillel. It was there that I discovered my passion for Jewish text study,  and found joy in working within my Jewish community. The supportive staff at AU Hillel mentored me and helped me transform my passions into a career. 

Encouraged by their guidance, I pursued a Hillel International summer internship, which became a transformative two-year experience. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, I continued interning remotely for the Campaign Services team at Hillel International, fueled by my love for serving the Jewish people. 

After my two years at Hillel International, I accepted a position at the College of Charleston (CofC) Hillel to serve as the engagement and program associate, and then as the assistant director, and it inspired me to continue my work in the Jewish community. In May of 2020, at the height of the pandemic, I moved to Charleston, South Carolina, leaving behind the familiar comforts of my community, but at the same time, I was filled with enthusiasm and anticipation for the future.  However, stepping into the unknown was difficult. The pandemic brought unprecedented changes to our lives, forcing me to navigate unexpected experiences both personally and professionally. 

Even amidst the change and uncertainty, I found myself thriving as a Jewish leader in the inclusive and empowering environment at CofC Hillel. In my two years there, I worked with passionate student leaders and staff to establish CofC Hillel’s first-ever Jewish LGBTQ+ affinity group, revitalized Shabbat on their campus, and fostered a vibrant and active community. Achieving these milestones only deepened my connection to my work and empowered me to grow into my role as a Jewish leader.

These experiences led me to HUC, which, at its core, values empowering Jewish education, leadership, and community. 

I spent my first year as a rabbinical student at HUC’s Taube Family Campus in Jerusalem where I was given the resources and space to grow as a student, Jewish leader, and as a person. Alongside brilliant faculty, I learned about the complexities of the land of Israel, Jewish tradition, Jewish history, and the Hebrew language. I’ll never forget the way in which the team of educators in my liturgy class breathed life into the siddur, or prayerbook. Although I had felt spiritually connected to prayer in the past, it wasn’t until that moment that I felt it come alive in my fingertips as the course taught me the multitude of Jewish stories contained within the siddur’s pages.

HUC also provided me with opportunities to engage in thought-provoking conversations about Israel. The respectful environment provided space and opportunities to engage meaningfully and genuinely in conversations about Israel. HUC’s commitment to embracing challenging conversations cultivated a community of well-rounded and open-minded leaders that I am proud to be a part of. 

As I reflect on my journey as a Jewish leader, from AU Hillel to CofC Hillel, to becoming a rabbinical student at HUC and my time spent in Jerusalem, I feel truly blessed to spend the next four years in New York studying and honing my skills as a Jewish leader. I see the many ways I can integrate the invaluable experiences from my time at Hillel with the rich knowledge I’ve gained from HUC and flourish as a leader who brings meaningful and authentic perspectives on Judaism to all kinds of Jewish people.