Now a second-year student in The Graduate School of The Jewish Theological Seminary, Joelle Kelenson will be the first to admit that her first year at JTS was as demanding as it was engaging. "I was in high-level classes that were very challenging. But taking professor Aryeh Davidson's class in Jewish Identity really helped me to understand my other courses," Joelle says.
Working toward her master's degree in Jewish Studies at JTS and another master's degree in Social Work at Columbia University as part of the Jewish Professional Leadership Program, Joelle is excited to seek a position in youth programming at a broad-based Jewish social service agency.
Joelle's interest in working with the Jewish community was a seed planted long before she got to JTS. As an undergraduate student at McGill University in her hometown of Montreal, Joelle majored in Jewish studies and sociology. "I have always wanted to reach people and introduce them to the vibrancy of Jewish cultural and social life," she says.
Her decision to come to The Graduate School was an easy one. "I knew JTS would provide a great education. I wanted to work in the Jewish community and I wanted both the management and the communal skills needed to be an effective Jewish leader," Joelle says.
In addition to the course work, Joelle credits the people of JTS for making her educational journey its most rewarding. "I have never been to a school where the dean knows my name. Dean Stephen Garfinkel is always supportive and receptive to my ideas about the program," she says. "Everyone is a resource here. Had I not taken advantage of all of the people who wanted to help me, I would not be so successful and I would not have gotten as much out of my experience as I did."
For Joelle, the balance of being able to receive training in Jewish studies together with a degree from Columbia, and the blend of modernity with tradition here, is at the heart of why JTS is the best place for her. That makes the result worth all of the effort.