Online learning student Michael Wikes was used to being on stage and screen before enrolling in the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education.
After many years as an actor in New York, Michael returned to the Washington DC area, where he was raised, and became involved in his local synagogue, Congregation Beth Emeth. A job teaching at the religious school there has now blossomed into a full-time job as the program director.
The decision to study at The Jewish Theological Seminary sprang from what Michael calls, “a later in life transition” into Jewish education. “When I wanted to make Jewish education my career, I was looking to get the best training and background, and to do it at JTS was the ultimate goal. It is an institution universally recognized for excellence,” he said.
JTS was a natural choice for Michael. He enjoys the inspiration that comes from the history of the institution, and his coursework has been both challenging and rewarding. “Foundations of Jewish Education was the first course I took, and I was almost overwhelmed with the combination of Jewish thought and educational theory. It literally created the foundation for everything that would follow, including how to study in the online Distance Learning system,” he said.
Michael is now in his fourth year and studying in the informal education track. Once he completes the program over the summer, Michael said he hopes “to return to New York and integrate my acting background with my ongoing Jewish education.”
When he isn’t studying, Michael enjoys cooking and spending time with his family—his wife of more than thirty years and their children. Befitting a childhood spent in his parents’ deli, Michael is proud to say he has never met a Jewish food he did not like. This also might explain why one of Michael’s favorite places at JTS, when he is on campus, is the Dining Hall.
Regardless of his geographical location, Michael’s journey to JTS via the Internet proves that a world-class Jewish education is not out of reach, no matter if one’s life is centered off campus in New York or way off campus in another state.