Name: Rachelle Grossman
School: Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies
Graduation Year: 2013
JTS Major: Modern Jewish Studies
Columbia Major: Comparative Literature and Society
Fellowships/Scholarships: List College Fellowship and Sylvia Ettenberg Scholarship
The Jewish Theological Seminary: Why did you choose List College?
Rachelle Grossman: I wanted to get an academically challenging Jewish education while having the flexibility to study in other fields.
JTS: What do you enjoy most about studying at JTS?
RG: I appreciate the close connection I have with deans and professors. The academic environment is nurturing and encouraging. I feel like the faculty is personally invested in my education.
JTS: Name your favorite JTS class.
RG: Dr. David Roskies' Crossing Delancey has been my favorite course so far. We covered a large breadth of American-Yiddish literature, focusing on writers' biographies and their relationships to one another, Judaism, and America. Professor Roskies teaches with passion and enthusiasm, which inspired me. Also, this class directly informs my course of study at JTS and Columbia [List College's Joint Program]. My thesis on the literature of immigration builds on themes that I first encountered in this course.
JTS: What do you enjoy most about being part of our community?
RG: The connection I have with employers and coworkers who are JTS alumni has benefited me. As I begin my career in the field of Jewish education in New York, not only do employers know that I have a strong background in Jewish studies, but we are able to connect through our shared experiences.
JTS: What person at JTS has had the greatest impact on you so far?
RG: Deans Shuly Rubin Schwartz and Rebecca Grabiner have guided me both academically and personally. I have been able to thrive at JTS because of the environment that these women foster. I appreciate their personal investment in me, which has emboldened me in my academic, personal, and professional pursuits.
JTS: What are your professional goals?
RG: I plan to pursue an advanced degree in Educational Administration, with future plans to develop curricula that address the varied needs of contemporary North American Jewry.
JTS: What has been the best JTS "moment" for you so far?
RG: As a List College Fellow, I have been able to participate in many dinners and cultural events with other fellows and faculty members. Following these outings, we often convene at Dean Schwartz's apartment for dessert and discussion. I love these evenings because faculty and students meet together as equals in a totally nonacademic, informal setting. No one hopes to get a better grade for saying something smart; all are free to share thoughts and delve into the topic without [worrying about] others' expectations.
JTS: Name your favorite place on campus.
RG: Ruth Decalo's office in Student Life.
JTS: Have you traveled anywhere interesting as part of your JTS training?
RG: I studied in Berlin at the Leo Baeck Summer University, where I was able to explore issues of Jewish-German history, literature, and politics before, during, and after WWII. Gaining a more in-depth understanding of European Jewish identity made me think more about my own Jewish ties. I hope to return to Berlin in the future.
JTS: Did you go to yeshiva or any type of Jewish school before List College?
RG: I grew up in Spokane, Washington, where being Jewish wasn't easy. For much of my high school years, I felt alienated from those around me, living for the weekends when there were USY Shabbatonim. As the only Jewish student in my high school, I sometimes felt bullied. I transferred high schools in 11th grade to attend a school where I would not be the only Jewish student; however, that new school only had 10 or so Jewish students.
In spite of the challenges, I loved teaching Hebrew school and tutoring b'nai mitzvah students. Being Jewish made me different, and it told me who I was. Even before Tumblr and Facebook, I started using the Internet to connect with Jewish blogs online, which made me feel proud of my identity.
JTS: Are any of your family members JTS alumni?
RG: No, but my little brother is in List College, class of 2014.
JTS: What would people be surprised to learn about you?