Today I meet with Jewish Communal Service Students. What is that you ask?
These are dedicated graduate students who are preparing for careers of service in the Jewish Community. They are the social workers, Federation professionals, fundraisers, executive directors and non-profit managers who help the Jewish community thrive. Hebrew Union College trains outstanding professionals who help the Jewish community and its institutions hum along. Most of these grad students are cross enrolled at USC with a social work degree or public policy degree or soon a non-profit MBA.
They come every summer to Kol Ami and visit and learn how are congregation serves a unique slice of the Jewish world. We are a synagogue doing synagogue things, services, religious school, Sisterhood and Brotherhood but we also reach out the LGBT community and HIV+communities. They come to experience and learn as part of their Wacky Wednesday class for the first year students that take them to many Jewish community agencies and organizations so they can see first hand the world they will enter!
When most people think of the Jewish community–they immediately think of synagogues. It is the core of the life of the community. But there is so much more. When we think of those who work in the Jewish community-we often think rabbis and teachers. But these Jewish communal professionals are also an integral part of the equation. They are Klei Kodesh. Holy Vessels doing holy work. Okay most don’t think of their work that way. But they are choosing to work in the Jewish world and that has important values attached to it that further the notion that God’s presence is in our lives and that we have a covenant that urges us to help repair the world of its brokenness.
These grad students could have just been social workers, therapists and fundraisers any where. They are choosing a specialty in the Jewish world. I give thanks for them.