These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

[Student Profile] Julie Aronowitz

Posted on December 22, 2010 by David Bogomolny

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“I’m spending this year in Jerusalem, learning how the Rabbis of the 1st and 2nd centuries endeavored to build a just society, and how Jewish tradition has built on their vision.”

After graduating from Brandeis University, Julie entered into the field of interfaith organizing through the Jewish Organizing Initiative Fellowship Program. Her many conversations with young adults about the significance of Jewish community and current political issues stoked Julie’s desire to ground her community organizing “toolkit” in traditional Jewish texts, but she felt driven to continue her community work in Boston.

Julie’s Fellowship came to an end, and she subsequently worked for two years at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston. A few months into this work, the Economic Crisis hit, and later that fall, when the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization gathered its member congregations to hold house meetings about the Economic Crisis, Julie found inspiration for a new JCRC campaign. 

The JCRC began gathering their people to share stories about how the Economic Crisis was affecting them – and to imagine together what they might want to do in response.  These house meetings struck a deep chord – panicked young adults kept saying that they had never had the space to share stories so honestly, and leaders from more and more organizations kept approaching the JCRC, asking them to help them facilitate meetings in their own communities.  In the end, Julie coordinated 12 meetings engaging over 125 Jewish young adults. From there she drew the participants into GBIO’s ensuing campaign work, and later, into the vision and creation of JCRC‘s own Community Service and Community Building program.  

Finally, Julie felt that the time had arrived for her Pardes year of Torah study, and today she spends her days in the beit midrash developing her “toolkit” through classes such as Dr. Meesh Hammer-Kossoy’s Social Justice Track and Rabbi Elisha Ancselovits’ classes on Halakha as Practical Philosophy. Of course, Julie’s heart yearns to apply her Torah learning to her work in community organizing…

“In the long run, I plan to continue doing interfaith organizing work… drawing Jews into Jewish community through meaningful social change work as Jews, and simultaneously drawing Jews into relationships with people of other faiths as Jews.”

UPDATE: Julie received the Wexner Fellowship for next year!