Rabbis for Human Rights-North America, together with Rabbis for Human Rights in Israel, launched an interdenominational Judaism and human rights education program for North American rabbinical students, cantorial students and others studying in Israel during the 2011/2012 academic year. The Rabbinical Students for Human Rights: Year in Israel Program is an opportunity for talented students spending the academic year in Israel to learn about human rights in Israel and the Palestinian Territories and to take action on human rights issues.
To date the program has offered an introductory information session with the leadership of Rabbis for Human Rights in Israel, a Shiyur on “The Rabbi as a Moral Leader” with Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Executive Director of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America, a field trip to the West Bank to harvest olives with Palestinian farmers and bear witnesses, a tour of East Jerusalem, a visit to Rabbis for Human Rights’ Economic Justice Program in Hadera, and a tour of Hebron. Upcoming events include a Shiyur on “Masekhet Zechuyot HaAdam based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” with Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, Rabbis for Human Rights-North America’s Director of North American Programs, a tour of a repeatedly demolished unrecognized Bedouin village in the Negev, a Jewish text study on Masekhet Atzmaut, based on Israel’s Declaration of Independence, and a creative writing workshop.
The Rabbinical Students for Human Rights: Year in Israel Program is coordinated RHR-NA’s Rabbinical Student Fellow in Israel, Marisa Elana James. After three years of living in Jerusalem, Marisa began her studies in 2010 at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. During those years, she primarily studied at the Conservative Yeshiva and worked for Encounter Programs. Previously, Marisa taught college writing and literature courses at the University of Connecticut and Rutgers, managed a bookstore, and worked as an insurance broker in New Jersey and New York. Marisa regularly teaches Introduction to Judaism classes for internationals in Bethlehem, acts as cantor for communities in Israel and America, and often assists her partner with translations from Hebrew and German to English.
We are now excited to introduce the inaugural cohort of our new Rabbinical Student Fellowship in Human Rights who will spend the summer of 2012 in NY with RHR-NA. Through this program, we are investing in the next generation of rabbinic and cantorial moral leaders. These fellows will each work with an organization that addresses issues such as human trafficking, economic justice, immigrant rights, and prison reform. The fellows will also participate in an intense program of learning Jewish perspectives on human rights, and developing the skills to be powerful moral leaders as rabbis and cantors.
The fellows are:
Michael Langer graduated magna cum laude from Brooklyn College with a BA in Psychology. After graduating from college, he spent three years as a project manager for a water conservation consulting firm in Brooklyn. Michael is currently a second year rabbinical student at Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and is also pursuing an MA in Jewish Philosophy. His interests include writing and magic. He is really excited to be a part of RHR-NA’s important work.
Elana Rosen-Brown is a rabbinical and cantorial student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion where she is a School of Sacred Music Fellow. A graduate of Middlebury College with a degree in History and Secondary Education, Elana is passionate about social justice education for students of all ages. During her time at HUC-JIR Elana has served as a student cantor for Temple Beth David in Cheshire, CT, Jewish Center of Northwest Jersey, and Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles, and worked as a tour educator for NFTY in Israel. She is currently working on her cantorial masters thesis which is entitled “Beyond Shalom/Salaam/Peace: Use of Music as a Tool in Jewish-Muslim Dialogue” and her masters recital, “Sounding Jerusalem: Harmony and Dissonance in Interfaith Dialogue”. Elana is truly looking forward to her summer as a fellow with RHR-NA.
Seth Wax is entering his fifth and final year at Hebrew College Rabbinical School in Newton, MA. A native of Sharon, MA, he studied religion as an undergrad at Columbia and Buddhist studies at Harvard Divinity School. He has taught Jewish studies and meditation in a number of synagogues, schools, colleges, and other institutions, and he currently serves as director of Prozdor of Hebrew College’s Makor program, an innovative 6th & 7th grade supplementary education collaboration with five Conservative synagogues.
Adam Zagoria-Moffet is a first-year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. He lives in Washington Heights with his wife and two cats. Prior to beginning rabbinical school he received a BA from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He enjoys reading Jewish mussar and wisdom literature, working for dynamic social change, and playing the board game Clue.