College; work; graduate school
When I entered my freshman year at George Washington University (GW), I had planned to major in psychology as I thought I may want to become a psychologist. Prior to leaving home, I declared to my parents that I was done with my religious education and that I had no intention of taking any religion classes. That decision changed at freshman orientation when Dr. Harry Yeide Jr., a Lutheran minister, and chair of the religion department spoke. His gentle, loving and ethical spirit captivated me so much that I registered for his class ‘Religion: Man’s Search for Meaning’ (which today, in our more politically correct times, would be probably be called ‘Religion: Our Search for Meaning’). So, I majored in religion and minored in psychology. Harry became my mentor and treasured friend until his death in 2013.
Throughout college I worked on my book about Rafi, re-writing it four times, as I deepened my skills as a writer. These manuscripts sit in a special space in my home office. Over the years, I have published a few essays from this work, and one day hope to return to it, when I come to understand more clearly what it wants to be.
Toward the end of college, my father forwarded me an announcement stating the Conservative movement’s decision to ordain women as rabbis. I was puzzled as to why he had sent this to me, as I had never expressed interest in becoming a rabbi. When I asked him about it, he said, “Because it’s an historic moment in time.”
After graduating GW, I worked as program director and acting director at Tufts University Hillel in Medford, Massachusetts. I then enrolled in the joint MA-MSW program at The Jewish Theological Seminary of America and Columbia University School of Social Work in Manhattan. By the time I graduated in 1988, I realized that my seminary studies had challenged me to discover a deeper meaning in life, and I began to understand that if I became a rabbi I could inspire and guide others in this way. I applied to rabbinical school, starting at what was then The University of Judaism in Los Angeles, and finishing at The Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan. In 1993, I received a MA in Hebrew Literature and was ordained as a rabbi, becoming the sixth generation of rabbis in my family, and the first woman.