The Rabbinical School Alumni

Meet Our Rabbis

With an expansive vision of the rabbinate, The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) guides rabbinical students to wisdom in Torah studyspiritual developmentpastoral care,  and professional development. In the classroom and in the field, JTS thoroughly prepares students for holy service in today's global Jewish community.

Sara Paasche-Orlow (RS '96)
Director of Spiritual Care, Hebrew SeniorLife
Boston, Massachusetts

In what role do you serve?  

I work in a very large senior healthcare and housing organization, directing a team of chaplains who serve in long-term care, post-acute care, supportive housing communities, palliative care, and hospice. I also founded and now oversee and guide a Jewish elder care–focused clinical pastoral education (CPE) program.  

In what ways is your work holy service?  

At the heart of my work is hesed, the wish to realize God's love in the world and to foster people's potential for caring acts. Being present for people in some of their hardest moments is humbling, and I often feel like I am in the presence of the Holy of Holies. As I work to create and guide more chaplaincy jobs and to promote better senior care, I feel God's hand, fighting for the vulnerable.  

Which JTS professor was formative for you?  

Rabbi Neil Gillman's work on ritual—understanding its underpinnings and possibilities—has helped me create a chaplaincy that draws deeply on tradition while responding to the needs of patients, families, and staff.

Can you discuss a prayer that has come to speak to you in recent years?  

Ki LeOlam Hasdo ("For His Mercy Endureth Forever") often echoes through my thoughts as I work with people who have lived long lives and continue to find meaning and goodness in each day, despite much hardship. I also say these words when I encounter those who have lost purpose in their lives, to help bring God into their existence.  

Who should consider entering the rabbinate today?  

Those who have a love and unquenchable thirst for Jewish learning. Those who feel spiritually sustained by observance, prayer, and community. Those who are ready to work hard for a good cause. There is a lot of opportunity and much work to do. 

Eliav Bock (RS '09)
Director, Ramah Outdoor Adventure at Ramah in the Rockies
Binghamton, New York

How did attending The Rabbinical School change your path in life?

After completing undergraduate degrees at List College and Columbia University, I worked as an equities trader on Wall Street. However, I continued to have a passion for Judaism, which had been nurtured at List College. I decided to return to JTS, this time at The Rabbinical School. My studies broadened my knowledge, taught me what it means to be a leader, and helped me determine how I wanted to give back to the Jewish community, which has had such a big impact on my own life. And now, I have my dream job: directing Ramah in the Rockies.   

Is there a text you studied in your time at JTS that has been a go-to for you in your work?  

For my senior sermon, I focused on Jewish ideas of happiness. I refer back to these constantly in my work. The text from Pirkei Avot, "Who is rich? He who is happy with what he has," is pretty powerful and very relevant to the many students I interact with throughout the year.   

A JTS education emphasizes the importance of context: in a text, in a historical period, in a halakhic decision. Thinking about the community you serve, how does its context shape the Torah you teach?

So many in my community are drawn to the sustainability aspect of our organization and consider themselves "environmentalists." Sadly, traditional Jewish texts are not so "environmental" in the way we understand this word in the 21st century. I have had to take texts and ideas from throughout our tradition and reinterpret their context. For example, the mitzvot around shmita [the agricultural sabbatical year] are very specific and apply only to the Land of Israel. But the values that shmita represents—from allowing the land to lie fallow to taking time to live with what we have and to promoting sustainable agriculture—are universal, even if not originally intended by the Torah.   

In what ways is your work holy service?  

Every day, I think about how my work will enable more people to experience the magic of Jewish summer camp and how I help ensure that everyone who comes through our doors will leave with a greater sense of Jewish identity, a greater passion for our religion, and the ability to step up and become a leader in their own community.

Esther Reed (RS '01)
Senior Associate Director, Rutgers University Hillel
New Brunswick, New Jersey

In what role do you serve? 

I help serve the needs of Jewish college students. It was clear to me, before I even began studies at The Rabbinical School, that by working at a Hillel, I would have a huge impact on the lives of young Jews during a critical time in their personal development. I knew that there was no other work that would be more fulfilling for me.  

Is there a text or quote you studied in your time at JTS that has guided you in your work?  

I took a wonderful class with Rabbi Edward Feld on Buber and Levinas. I remember that Martin Buber said, "A rabbi is someone who makes friends between people." This is the work I do every day on campus: I bring students together to meet one another. Some find friendship; some find life partners. Some find those with whom they disagree, but from whom they can still learn.  

How did your JTS education help prepare you for the work you now do?  

Immeasurably! I wouldn't be counseling students, studying texts, teaching, preparing students for conversions, and preparing alumni for their weddings without my training at JTS.   

In what ways is your work holy service?  

I work with college students who are seeking a spiritual home and someone to guide them on their personal Jewish journey. While Hillel supports a student on any path, I serve as a resource both as a Jew and as a Conservative Jewish rabbi. In both ways, I mentor and nurture students in their personal growth as Jewish adults.  

What do you do for fun, recreation, or rejuvenation?  

I love spending time with my three delightful, energetic boys, who are seven, eight, and ten. I also love to bake. I usually bake challah each week for Shabbat. 

Adam Cutler (RS '09)
Rabbi, Beth Tzedec Congregation

Toronto, Canada

In what role do you serve?

I serve as one of two rabbis in a very large, traditional, Conservative synagogue. My duties touch all aspects of synagogue life: I teach, preach, and counsel members of the community, and I conduct services and life cycle events.   

What is a pressing concern for the people you serve?

I think ultimately we are all trying to answer the question, "Why be Jewish?" It is my goal as a rabbi to help people answer that question.   

Who is the JTS professor or mentor who was formative for you?

I had the great pleasure of learning with Rabbi Joel Roth on numerous occasions, and we had met each other a few times before I began at JTS. On my first day, I got to the Stein minyan early. I was the first one there. I put on my tallit and tefillin and sat down. Rabbi Roth walked in. He looked up at me, pointed to my seat, and said, "Adam, Adam, Adam. I've been sitting there for 30 years." He then kindly directed me to the empty seat beside him. I had the privilege of davening next to him for the next five years.   

How did your JTS education help prepare you for the work you now do?

I simply could not serve my community effectively without my JTS education.

What religious or professional insights have you gained from mentors in the field?

The best piece of advice from a colleague came from my senior rabbi, Baruch Frydman-Kohl. He told me very early on that I will never be able to accomplish everything that I want to in a single day. If I go home at the end of the day and feel like I was productive and efficient and helped changed someone's life, then it was a good day.   

Who should consider entering the rabbinate today and why?

The rabbinate is a great choice for those who want a life committed to serving God and the Jewish community, those interested in hard work, and those who want to find meaning in their day-to-day life.

Yonina Eisenberg Creditor (RS '12)
United States Navy Chaplain, assigned to Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler; Headquarters and Services Battalion Chaplain, Camp Foster
Okinawa, Japan

In what role do you serve?

I am the H&S battalion chaplain, serving approximately 1,400 marines, their families, and the civilians with whom they work. I am their spiritual advisor, their confidante, their cheerleader, their mentor, their parent, and their teacher. 

Which JTS professor was formative for you?  

Dr. Burton L. Visotzky. When I chose to go into the military, he was one of the few who encouraged me. He told me that it didn't matter where I went in the world, he would find a way to continue to study with me.

Is there a Torah portion you studied in your time at JTS that has been a go-to text for you?  

The piece I pull out most often is Ecclesiastes 4:9—10: "Two are better than one because when one falls, there is another to pick him up. But woe to the one who is alone, because when he falls, there is no one there to help him up." For marines and sailors, it is key to know that they are not alone and that they need to lean on others. When they fall, their fellow sailors and marines will carry them until they can stand on their own.

Can you discuss a prayer that has come to speak to you in recent years?

Elohai Neshama Shenatata Bi Tehora Hi ("The Soul that You Have Given Me Is Pure"). I use it to remind people that they are holy and loved by God.  

In what ways is your work holy service?  

The marines say things to me that they don't tell anyone else. They confess, they cry, they allow themselves to be vulnerable because of who I am and what I represent. They feel they can tell me anything, because to them I am God's emissary.

What gives you great joy or satisfaction in your work?

I really enjoy teaching my conversion class. I love when "already Jews" come to the class because they want to learn too.