While growing up in Jupiter, Florida, Shayna Sehayik did not take an active interest in being Jewish—not until she was nearly done with high school. Seeing her multicultural group of friends' strong ties to their heritages, languages, and home countries, Shayna begin to want the same connection to Judaism, Hebrew, and Israel.
Shayna was considering attending Columbia University when a local rabbi told her about the Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies. She immediately knew that the Joint Program of List College was right for her. "Being able to have a formal Jewish education was so appealing, as well as the opportunity to study in New York City—the nexus of Jewish life in America," Shayna says.
As soon as she arrived at JTS, Shayna began to build the relationship with her faith that she had long sought. "In Bible survey with Dr. Sharon Keller and Intro to Talmud with Dr. Marjorie Lehmann, I learned where certain traditions came from. Studying the documentary hypothesis was fascinating because it provides logical explanations for things we see in the Torah," she says.
Learning about Judaism extended into social hours too: "The interesting conversations that began in class continued into the hallways and dorm rooms. People had so many different perspectives and honest assessments—it was refreshing."
Seeing Shayna gain a more thorough understanding of her background, two of her siblings, Aryeh and Talia, decided to attend List College as well. "Once they saw how much I grew and was transformed, they wanted that exposure to Jewish life," Shayna says. And because she is now an intern for part of List 101, the entering student seminar, she has the opportunity to teach her sister Talia.
Happily established in New York City, Shayna looks forward to Friday nights when the three siblings gather for Shabbat dinner. Looking a bit further off then next Shabbat, Shayna is eager to graduate in May and considering applying to law school, with the goal of focusing on immigration or family law.
At List College, Shayna has cultivated a deeper, richer, and more knowledgeable appreciation of the traditions of Judaism and the ongoing legacy of intellectual engagement with the texts of our people. "Whatever I learn here will inform whatever I do," Shayna says. No matter what her career she chooses, she will always carry a strong bond to her faith, and the skills to put that faith into practice.
Shayna Sehayik on the quality of a List College education: