Study, Love, Serve – How Two Hillel Professionals Got Their Start



January 19, 2023

Missy and Rob the day after they got engaged at HUC-JIR

On Missy Goldstein’s first day at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion’s (HUC-JIR) School of Education in Jerusalem, she bumped into Rob Gleisser on her way to pick up her welcome packet. Rob was a rabbinical student who had already been in Israel for a few weeks in a pre-ulpan program (an intensive Hebrew language immersion program). Missy and Rob hit it off right away and kept gravitating toward each other as they got settled in their first year at HUC-JIR. There was only one problem: they had each decided they wouldn’t date anyone in their year in Jerusalem as they focused on self-growth and friendships. 

Despite their best efforts to slow things down, by the end of the year Rob and Missy had a plan to date long-distance until Missy completed her degree, at which point she would join Rob in Cincinnati as he continued with rabbinical school. A few years later, they got married and moved to State College, Pennsylvania, where Rob became the Senior Jewish Educator at Penn State Hillel and Missy would be a  Campus Marketing and Development Manager for Hillel International. 

Growing up, Missy was surrounded by family members who were longtime Jewish professionals, and she decided early on that she would take the same path. After finishing a post-college education fellowship, Missy started two Masters degrees at the Rhea Hirsch School of Education and the Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management: one in Jewish education (which is now the Masters in Educational Leadership program) and one in Jewish nonprofit management. As she continued with her studies, she felt more drawn to nonprofit work and changed her focus solely to nonprofit management. 

When reflecting on her studies at HUC-JIR, Missy highlighted that a program called “Wacky Wednesdays” was particularly impactful in inspiring her journey. Each Wednesday, Missy and her cohort would visit different organizations in the Los Angeles area to learn about the variety of opportunities available in the Jewish nonprofit world. Missy credits Wacky Wednesdays, along with meaningful internships at NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change and the Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center that she held while at HUC-JIR, with cementing the skills that she would bring with her to the Hillel movement.

Rob’s journey to HUC-JIR and Hillel took a different, but related path. He grew up in a large Reform congregation in Cleveland and was involved in Reform Jewish leadership from a young age. Inspired by the community organizing work he did in high school and his involvement in Ohio State University Hillel, Rob decided that he wanted to be a rabbi and that, as the center of Reform Jewish education, HUC-JIR was the place where he would study to achieve that goal. 

Rob’s studies at HUC-JIR helped form the approach to text study that he still uses in his work with students at Penn State Hillel. In studying feminist, Marxist frameworks for ancient Jewish texts, Rob realized that each student’s unique experience could be a frame through which that student could view and connect with those texts. 

Missy and Rob both found professional and personal inspiration at HUC-JIR for their careers in the Hillel movement. From meeting each other to connecting with stellar Jewish professionals throughout the HUC-JIR network, their experiences at HUC-JIR formed a strong foundation for the incredible work they do today. 

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