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Alumna Spotlight

Molly Levy
Molly Levy

 

Q&A with Molly Levy '14, Director of Education at the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life (ISJL)

As Director of Education for the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life (ISJL), Molly Levy ‘14 works to provide Jewish education to youth across the region. A graduate of the leadership in Jewish education and communal service (LJEC) program at Towson University, Levy lives in Tampa, Florida, with her husband and two sons—Jonah, age six, and Max, age 3. The family belongs to Congregation Schaarai Zedek, where she teaches confirmation on Sunday mornings.

We caught up with Levy to hear about her background, the impact of her TU experience and her work with ISJL. She also shared some tips for families to enhance their Jewish learning.

BHI: Please share a little with us about your Jewish upbringing.

Molly Levy: I grew up in Gainesville, Georgia, which is about an hour north of Atlanta. Growing up, my sister and I were the only Jewish students in our school and we spent a lot of time explaining Judaism to our friends and teachers. We were lucky to live in a place that was very open and excited about our Judaism. Our parents made sure that being Jewish felt like a part of our life even though we were not in a youth group or able to go to services every Friday. We were part of a small congregation that met once a month at a church and I loved singing the prayers and going to the Oneg (reception). My parents eventually sent me to URJ (Union for Reform Judaism) Camp Coleman where I was immersed in Judaism. I absolutely loved it and ended up working at Coleman for many years.

BHI: What attracted you to becoming a Jewish professional?

ML: Growing up, I talked about my Judaism a lot and loved sharing what I found interesting about my religion. I always thought I would be a teacher of some kind and pursued an undergraduate degree in English education. I did not know that being a Jewish professional was a job you could have until I began my first job at the ISJL. A representative from the ISJL came to speak at my congregation in Georgia during my senior year of college. They told us about a fellowship where I would move to Jackson, Mississippi, and work with small congregations like mine around the South. It sounded perfect to me, and I immediately applied. I learned so much during my time at the ISJL and knew that if I wanted to really make this a career, I would need to get my master’s and some formal training, which is when I applied to BHI.

BHI: Tell me more about the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life and how your role as Director of Education connects Jews in the South.

ML: At the ISJL our mission is to connect, support, and celebrate Jewish life in the South, with a focus on the smallest communities. The Education Division works with over 70 communities across the South to bring quality Jewish education to every child, no matter if there are two students in their school or 200. We provide a fully scripted curriculum, so anyone can feel confident to lead a religious school class, regardless of their background. We also host a conference for all of our communities to help them connect with one another and provide them with support all year long. I work with a team of program associates who, during a two-year fellowship, become experts in the curriculum and Jewish programming. I love working with emerging professionals and hope that a few of them find their way to BHI like I did!

BHI: Do you have a favorite professor from Towson University’s LJEC program? If so, who is it and why?

ML: Dr. Rebecca Shargel was an extremely impactful professor for me. She helped me connect education theory with Judaism. I loved learning from her and being a part of the larger College of Education. She really helped me connect what I loved about Judaism with education. I also had fun working on projects with folks outside of our program and hearing their perspectives.

BHI: Have you been to Israel? If so, what place or experience had the greatest impact on you?

ML: I have traveled to Israel many times for my work with Jewish camping and teens. However, my favorite experience was on my BHI trip with Dr. Hana Bor. The focus of our trip was on social services in Israel and Dr. Bor took us to so many incredible places. I had been on so many trips that were purely about the history and this trip showed me a completely different side of Israel. We visited schools, retirement homes, and art centers, as well as historical sites and museums. On top of that, I bonded so closely with my classmates and had the best time.

BHI: Do you have any fun or interesting suggestions about how families can enhance their Jewish learning?

ML: I always tell my religious school families to mark Shabbat in any way they can. Light candles over a pizza dinner, plan a weekly family game night, go out in nature and run around together. Many families have a picture of challah and a fancy table on Shabbat, but it is OK to make it unique to your family. Shabbat is a break, a pause, and all you have to do is find a way to fill that pause with each other!

BHI: This last question is just for fun: What is a dessert or food that you can’t resist?

ML: Brownies--especially the ones my mom makes!

 

Collection of nearly 300 letters shared with Cook Library by Jaclyn Cohen ’65 offers researchers first-person glimpse into WWII.

 

 

New Faculty Publications

Hana Bor, Ph.D.

Enhancing Values of Dignity, Democracy, and Diversity in Higher Education

Contesting a gradual disregard for the values of Dignity, Democracy, and Diversity in higher education, this volume explores best practices from universities and colleges in Israel and the USA to illustrate how these values can offer a holistic values framework for higher education globally.

Presenting a range of interdisciplinary chapters from fields including history, philosophy, memorial studies, cultural, political, gender, and religious studies, the text considers how these values can be reflected in policy and practice across all areas of the university, including teaching and learning, admissions, students’ affairs, staff well-being, and institutional identity. The volume highlights constructive theories, experimental models, and case studies that collectively inform a holistic framework for moral, ethical, and equitable higher education worldwide.

Offering key insights into the relevant discourse regarding local and global events that have impacted both Israelis and Americans, this volume will appeal to researchers in the fields of higher education, sociology of education, and philosophy of education, as well as postgraduates and scholars with interests in the transformation of higher education in light of contemporary times and challenges.

Gilad Sharvit, Ph.D.

Dynamic Repetition: History and Messianism in Modern Jewish Thought

The book by Sharvit, assistant professor in the department of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Towson University, proposes a new understanding of modern Jewish theories of messianism across the disciplines of history, theology, and philosophy.  The book describes how the ideals of repetition, return, and the cyclical gave rise to a new messianic impulse across an important swath of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century German Jewish thought. To grasp the complexities of Jewish messianism in modernity, the book focuses on diverse notions of “dynamic repetition” in the works of Franz Rosenzweig, Walter Benjamin, Franz Kafka, and Sigmund Freud, and their interrelations with basic trajectories of twentieth-century philosophy and critical thought.

Book Review

Jews Out of the Question: A Critique of Anti-Semitism

Elad Lapidot

Book review by Dr. Gilad Sharvit

The academic field of the study of Antisemitism is fraught today with ongoing political debates on the legitimacy of the state of Israel and the nature of Zionism. Yet the effects of what one may call “classic” forms of racism and Antisemitism are still well observed in Jewish communities in the USA and Europe. These forms of Antisemitism are at the focus of Elad Lapidot’s wonderful new book Jews Out of the Question: A Critique of Anti-Anti-Semitism. Lapidot, however, does not engage with Antisemitism directly. Rather, in this latest work, he invites us to rethink how we should fight against Antisemitism. He is focused on the responses of Jewish and non-Jewish thinkers to Antisemitism in the 20th century, to suggest, quite surprisingly, that these responses share some rather important assumptions about Judaism. To clarify, Elad’s critique of anti-anti-Semitism does not intend to defend Antisemitism. On the contrary, his book suggests a fundamental affinity, and so a certain complicity between a dominant critique of Antisemitism and the criticized object.  Continue Reading