Four students from The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) have been named as recipients of the Schusterman Rabbinical Fellowship, in a program that brings future leaders of the Conservative and Reform movements together for two years of formal study.
This third cohort of the program will be composed of students from both JTS and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). Inaugurated in August 2008, the Schusterman Rabbinical Fellowship Program is designed to create a cadre of Reform and Conservative rabbis who share a broad and dynamic vision of communal leadership for American Jewry.
The program is funded by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation (CLSFF). The Center for Leadership Initiatives, Inc. (CLI), a private operating foundation dedicated to developing Jewish leaders and promoting managerial excellence throughout the Jewish community, has helped shape the program.
Beginning this fall, SR Fellows will study leadership, collaboration techniques, and key issues in American Jewry, learning from JTS and HUC-JIR faculty as well as outside experts. Through semiannual gatherings, monthly conference calls or webinars, and informal exchanges, the SR Fellows will examine management methods, define personal visions for their rabbinates, and cultivate strategies for drawing Jews who often feel marginalized—including those in interfaith relationships and those not formally affiliated with a congregation—closer to the heart of the Jewish community. The SR Fellowship provides funds for tuition and a living stipend during the third and fourth years of the Fellows’ rabbinical studies in order to give the participants more opportunity to focus on becoming rabbinical leaders of contemporary American Jewry.
“The Schusterman Rabbinical Fellowship Program enables rabbinical students to engage in interdenominational dialogue and collaboration, and this makes an enormous contribution to the future of American Judaism,” said JTS Chancellor Arnold Eisen. “On behalf of JTS, I once again thank the Schusterman Foundation for its remarkable leadership and its ongoing support of our rabbinical students.”
“We are pleased to be able to provide this distinguished group of rabbinical students from different denominations the opportunity to study together and, we hope, emerge from their seminaries with open minds and collaborative spirits,” said Sandy Cardin, President of CLSFF. “It is important that we help them recognize, celebrate and embrace the universal ideas and values that bind us all as Jews."
Rabbi David Ellenson, President of HUC-JIR, said, “We are grateful to the Schusterman Foundation for its vision in sustaining this fellowship. This program models the kind of cooperation that can and ought to mark American Jewish life. Ours is a partnership that respects denominational differences, while also recognizing that the American Jewish community faces a common set of challenges and requires transformational rabbinical leaders who will revitalize contemporary Jewish life.”
SR Fellows include*:
The Jewish Theological Seminary:
Dahlia Bernstein, Plainview, NY
Joshua Dorsch, Wynnewood, PA
Ravid Tilles, Silver Spring, MD
Eric Woodward, Tarzana, CA
* Full biographical statements can be found below.
Schusterman Rabbinical Fellows, 2010–2012:
Dahlia Bernstein, twenty-four, is a third-year rabbinical student at The Jewish Theological Seminary. Hailing from New York, Dahlia is a graduate of the Joint Program of the Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies at JTS and Columbia University, where she earned two bachelor’s degrees: one from Columbia in Anthropology and the second in Talmud and Rabbinics from JTS. During her four years at Columbia, Dahlia trained and served as a peer counselor for a crisis hotline. Between college and rabbinical school, Dahlia worked for the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York in their Intergroup Relations Department. For the past seven summers, Dahlia worked at Camp Ramah in Nyack, NY. As a delegate for Camp Ramah, Dahlia traveled to Berlin and Ukraine on cross-cultural exchanges and, in 2009, participated in the AJWS Rabbinical School delegation to Muchucuxcah, Mexico.
Joshua Dorsch, twenty-four, is a third-year rabbinical student at The Jewish Theological Seminary. He is also earning his master’s degree in Jewish Education from JTS’s William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education. He is a graduate of the Joint Program of List College and Columbia University, where he earned two bachelor’s degrees: one from Columbia in Political Science, and the second in Talmud and Rabbinics from JTS. While an undergraduate, Josh served as the List College student body president and as the vice president of Initiatives of the Columbia/Barnard Hillel, and was an active brother in the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. In addition to his work over many summers at Camp Ramah in the Poconos, Josh has served as an interim principal of a supplemental school, student rabbi of Emanuel Synagogue in West Hartford, CT, and teacher at Tehillah Hebrew School in Riverdale, NY. He is originally from Wynnewood, PA, where he was a member of Temple Beth Hillel/Beth El. Josh is a former competitive table tennis player and enjoys rooting for his favorite Philadelphia sports teams, the Phillies and Eagles.
Ravid Tilles, twenty-five, is a third-year rabbinical student at The Jewish Theological Seminary. Ravid graduated with honors from the University of Pittsburgh, where he majored in Social Work and received a certificate in Jewish Studies. While at Pitt, Ravid was the vice president of Religious Life at Hillel for three years, where he led High Holiday services and helped raise active participation at Hillel from 50 to 200 students. He is also a founding member of the Jewish a cappella choir at Pitt. Since starting rabbinical school, Ravid has served as the youth director of Temple Beth Sholom in Roslyn, Long Island, NY. He has spent two out of the last three summers as a group leader for USY on Wheels. Ravid is from Maryland and still has strong ties to his home congregation, Shaare Tefila in Silver Spring.
Eric Woodward, twenty-nine, is a third-year rabbinical student at The Jewish Theological Seminary. Originally from Tarzana, CA, Eric is a cum laude graduate of Williams College, where he majored in religion and received honors for his thesis on Joseph Soleveitchik. He earned a master's degree in Jewish Philosophy from JTS, where he wrote his thesis about Walter Benjamin. Before starting rabbinical school, Eric worked for two years as the program director at Judea Reform Congregation in Durham, NC. Eric is the founder of Eitzat Yitro, a group at JTS for rabbinical students whose identities involve some interfaith component (such as parental intermarriage, conversion of a close relative or partner, or a student’s own conversion). He is the vice president of The Rabbinical School Students Organization and a member of Keshet. Eric is also a teacher at the Rebecca and Israel Ivry Prozdor High School of JTS and the Ansche Chesed Hebrew School, and has been a fellow at Yeshivat Hadar. This summer, he will complete a 400-hour unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan.