Anyone who knows Rachel Krueger knows that her passion for Jewish education is matched only by how much she enjoys being a second-year student at the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education of The Jewish Theological Seminary.
About growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, Rachel says, "I always loved my Jewish educational experiences. I went to Camp Ramah Darom in Georgia for thirteen years and was on the regional board of USY when I was younger."
Yet it was only after taking a class called Jewish Leaders as Jewish Educators while an undergraduate at Brandeis University, where she majored in Jewish Studies, that she began to consider Jewish education as a professional goal.
After a year of learning Torah and Talmud at Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, Rachel applied to The Davidson School because "The Jewish Theological Seminary has the most opportunities for its students, and it is the most established and well-rounded program available," she says.
Now that she is here at JTS, Rachel knows she made the best decision possible. She notes the community of The Davidson School as a particular strength. She also says, "The professors are deeply invested in the personal achievement of their students, and they pass on a wealth of opportunities to them."
Rachel plays an integral role in The Davidson Student Organization, coordinating Shabbat dinners, visits to congregations across New York City, discussion groups, and social events. She is also an active member, and past co-chair, of The Davidson School Minyan, which meets weekly to experiment with different ways of praying as a community. Rachel explains, "We had a yoga minyan, we experimented with prayer through dance with the music group Jam Daven (made up of alumni from The Davidson School), we introduced art programs, and more." It is this new way of looking at tradition that is redefining the ways Jews can express their faith and engage with their religion.
Outside JTS, Rachel is gaining real-world experience as part of her internship at the Auburn Theological Seminary, where she works as the program director for MyFaith-YourFaith. This innovative program brings teenagers from different religions together to discuss interfaith issues and take trips to houses of worship to experience different rituals and practices. "It is a truly rewarding experience," says Rachel.
Upon graduation in May, Rachel will seek a position in an organization such as Hillel, or in the field of social justice. Given the communities she has already helped foster during her education and work at The Davidson School, Rachel will surely have great success in whatever path she takes.