Dualism - Like hundreds before them, Amy Rosenbach and Heath Watenmaker
are training in social work (or other professions) at USC while
studying Jewish communal service at HUC’s Daniels School, directed by
Steven Windmueller (center).
Photographs by Joe Pugliese
Issue: Autumn 2005
Judaic Treasures of Troy
35 years, an extraordinary bond has existed between USC and its nearest
academic neighbor, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
Thousands of shared students and joint-degree alumni are living proof
that amazing things can happen when a secular research university and a
small religious college decide to embrace each other’s differences.
By Diane Krieger
could say Lindy Davidson is leading worship, only it looks a lot like
dance improv. Her acolytes – a mix of USC actors, dancers, singers and
performance artists – sit in a circle on the Scene Dock stage.
“Adonai sifatai tiftach ufi yagid tehilatecha,”
she articulates carefully, pacing barefoot in leotards around the
circle. It means: “God, open my lips that my mouth may speak your
praise.” The devotion Davidson has selected to demonstrate her unique
approach to midrash (liturgical exegesis) is actually a preparatory supplication – an invocation of the pious muse.
Davidson prompts the participants, who appear to be a multifaith crowd, to mime selected words: first Adonai (God); then sifatai (my lips); next tiftach (open); and finally, tehilatecha (your praise). Before long the artists’ backs begin to arch, mouths gape, palms spread, arms strain skyward.
“Now weave your movements together,” Davidson instructs.
And behold: a dozen devotional dances in miniature, each unique and
personal, illustrating a prayer Jews have been reciting mornings,
afternoons and evenings through the millennia.
No, Davidson isn’t proselytizing. Her exercise is one of two dozen
student presentations at a creativity workshop led by world-famous
choreographer Twyla Tharp. Nor is Davidson trying to jump-start a
career in choreography. Her dual master’s degrees, when she graduated
in May from USC and Hebrew Union College, were in public art studies
and Jewish communal service, respectively. Where her journey will take
her even Davidson can’t tell. “All I know is I want to continue to use
art as a way to help inspire the community,” she says. Someday
participants in her prayer-movement improv circle may be her own young
Torah scholars: Davidson is currently in Jerusalem, beginning her first
year of rabbinical training.
||Trip the Light Divine
Lindy Davidson’s search for ways to unite her passion for theater,
dance and Judaism led her to USC’s and HUC’s joint master’s program in
public art studies and Jewish communal service. She is now training to
become a rabbi.
Photo by Joe Pugliese
has been written about USC’s efforts to promote unlikely
cross-fertilizations between disciplines. It is at these unexpected
margins, so the theory goes, that the next wave of intellectual and
creative breakthroughs will emerge. But less has been said about a
partnership of more than 35 years’ standing that truly embodies this
philosophy. The partnership in question is between USC and its closest
geographical neighbor in higher education, the Los Angeles campus of
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Two schools
different as night and day, yet close as brothers.
students from HUC have been crossing Jefferson Boulevard for decades to
take classes in social work, public administration, gerontology and
religion and social ethics. More recently, they’ve been coming over to
study communications management, public art and business
administration. On the horizon, there’s talk of cooperative programs in
sacred music, classics and Jewish filmmaking.
At the same time, USC undergraduates have been crossing the street in
the other direction to take courses in religious literature and
philosophy, Holocaust studies, modern Hebrew, Jewish-American history
and a host of other topics taught by HUC’s distinguished faculty of 24
The two institutions have bent over backward to find intersections. And
students have taken that good will and run with it, turning the
resources of both schools to their educational advantage. Davidson is
just one of more than 300 joint USC-HUC graduate alumni. Many have
amazing stories: like second-year student Gosia Szymanska, who came all
the way from Poland to train in Jewish community service and public
administration, skill sets that are virtually unknown and sorely needed
in her homeland. Or like gerontologist Beverly Engel MS ’86, who has
developed adult day-care programs for Jewish and non-Jewish seniors in
Ohio, Mississippi and Florida. Or Deborah Mohile MPA ’94, former White
House public liaison with Jewish organizations, now communications
director for a nonprofit that ferries tens of thousands of young Jews
from around the globe to experience the promised land.
None of these cross-fertilizations would have been possible were it not
for the unwavering spirit of collaborative goodwill on both sides of
“The relationship between USC and HUC is unique in this country,” says
USC President Steven B. Sample. “Perhaps no other seminary and secular
research universities in the nation can boast of closer ties.”
Across the way, the feeling is mutual. “It’s an extraordinary
relationship in higher education,” says HUC dean Lewis Barth, chief
executive of the Los Angeles campus at 32nd and Hoover.
It began in 1968,
when USC’s President Norman Topping approached philanthropist Jack
Skirball and Rabbi Fred Gottschalk – then senior administrator of the
Los Angeles branch of HUC – and urged the small religious college to
leave its cramped Hollywood hills facility on Appian Way. They signed
an agreement a year later, and in 1971 HUC moved to its present
location a stone’s throw from the University Park campus.
Just what is Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion? It’s
the academic, spiritual and professional leadership development center
of Reform Judaism (the liberal-progressive branch of the faith).
Founded in 1875 in Cincinnati, HUC-JIR (the compound name is a result
of a merger in 1950) educates rabbis, cantors, theologians, religious
teachers and communal service professionals. It’s the nation’s oldest
institution of higher Jewish education, with campuses in Cincinnati,
New York, Los Angeles and Jerusalem. (See “A Brief History of HUC,” p.
But that’s only part of the picture. “In addition to being one of the
world’s best Jewish seminaries in its own right, HUC has also become
the de facto
Judaic studies program for USC undergraduates,” explains Sample.
“Today, more than 600 undergraduates take courses each year through HUC
and USC’s School of Religion. Many of these students are Jews, but a
substantial number are not.”
Other Jewish seminaries have
relationships with nearby universities: for example, Columbia
University with the Jewish Theological Seminary, the ordaining body for
the Conservative movement of Judaism. HUC’s other three campuses also
have ties with neighboring University of Cincinnati, New York
University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. But these are
straightforward quid pro quos. The ties between USC and HUC’s Los
Angeles campus go deeper. “The relationship we have here is looked at,
by the other HUC campuses, as an ideal of what they would like to
strive for,” says Barth.
Consider that the current chairman of USC’s Board of Trustees – Stanley
Gold JD ’67 – is also a current member and former chairman of HUC’s
board. And that David Ellenson, the HUC system’s president in
Cincinnati, taught undergraduates at USC for 20 years; his own children
are Trojans, beneficiaries of USC’s generous employee tuition
assistance program. Barth and Joseph Aoun (dean of the USC College of
Letters, Arts and Sciences) are such close personal friends that their
families vacation together.
||Return of the Prodigal Son
Josh Holo practically grew up at USC, the son of longtime Fisher
Gallery director Selma Holo. As head of HUC’s Louchheim School, USC’s de facto Judaic studies department, he intends to carry the collaboration to new heights.
Photo by Joe Pugliese
more. The new director of HUC’s Louchheim School of Judaic Studies
(which functions as USC’s Judaic studies department) is Joshua Holo –
son of art historian Selma Holo, longtime USC Fisher Gallery director
and head of the university’s new International Museum Institute. The
younger Holo has known HUC dean Barth since the age of 5: The two
families belonged to the same “havurah” (friendship circle). He
has known USC’s dean of religious life almost as long: Rabbi Susan
Laemmle has been a family friend since 1991, when she joined USC as
This isn’t nepotism; it is collegiality at its best.
“HUC is part of the Trojan Family and has been for as long as I have
been at this university,” says professor Bruce Zuckerman, a 25-year
veteran of USC College’s School of Religion. “There’s nothing else like
this in academe. And it really wasn’t an accident. It was a
determination going back to the time when HUC made the decision to move
to this neighborhood.”
Zuckerman served on the search committee that hired the 34-year-old
Holo, who comes from the faculty of the multifaith Graduate Theological
Union in Berkeley, Calif. The University of Chicago-educated historian,
an authority on Spanish and Italian Jewry, “will take what is already a
good thing and make it a great thing,” predicts Zuckerman. “He wants to
see the partnership between HUC and USC turn into a model of how Judaic
education at the college level should be conducted. Josh’s aim is to
take us to a whole new level.”
Holo considers his new job a cakewalk. “We have all the raw material
that we could possibly want,” he says. “The table is set. Everyone is
around the table. I just have to serve the food.”
Despite his status as USC’s only Jewish religion scholar, professor
Bruce Zuckerman has the good fortune to oversee a top-flight Judaic
studies program and a notable collection of Near Eastern antiquities.
Photo by by Joe Pugliese
When you think
of powerhouses in Judaic studies, USC isn’t the first name that comes
to mind. Yet the quantity and quality of Jewish education taking place
here is remarkable. The religion school’s Zuckerman, who recently
served on an advisory panel reviewing Judaic studies at Princeton, says
the New Jersey-based Ivy “would kill” to have USC’s enrollments. “If
you were to compare our JS enrollments with others, I bet there would
be few if any that could match our numbers,” he says.
is a miracle when you consider that Zuckerman is the sole Judaic
scholar on USC’s religion faculty. But, he explains, “we’re
extraordinarily fortunate to have HUC in close physical proximity and
in close intellectual association with USC. It’s like having an extra
set of all-stars who can supplement what we do.”
Beau Shapiro knows all about that. The Santa Barbara native set his
sights on the rabbinate as a teenager. Looking to major in Judaic
studies, he applied to all the obvious places. So how come he’ll be
graduating from USC next December?
“I got accepted at Brandeis, but I didn’t want to go there,” Shapiro recalls. “It wasn’t diverse enough.”
(Interestingly, graduate student Adam Halpern gives the same reason for
coming to USC for his dual degrees in social work and Jewish communal
service. Of the five or six programs he considered, Halpern says, “USC
was the most diverse. I thought that said a lot about the school’s
Compared to Yale or Yeshiva universities, USC’s Judaic studies program
is miniscule, with no more than five to 10 students pursuing the major
at any one time.
Shapiro actually sees that as an advantage: “My classes are very small, which I love,” he says.
USC’s tie with HUC means he gets the best of both worlds: the chance to
work closely with stellar Judaic scholars and to attend arguably the
country’s most religiously, culturally and academically eclectic
Shapiro learned about USC’s JS major serendipitously. On a flight from
Minnesota, he found himself sitting next to the program’s first
graduate, Denise L. Eger ’82, now rabbi of Congregation Kol-Ami in West
Hollywood. Intrigued, Shapiro dug around and uncovered a pint-sized
program with the curricular punch of a heavyweight. His course load
speaks for itself: Last semester, as a senior, he took upper-division
courses on gender and Judaism; a social history course analyzing
Judaism as an American religion; and a race relations course on blacks
and Jews that culminated in a field trip to Boyle Heights, once dubbed
“the Lower East side of Los Angeles” and home to 90,000 Jews. (The
students visited former synagogues converted to Baptist churches.)
This fall, Shapiro will be applying to HUC’s rabbinical program.
Competition is fierce, but the young Trojan thinks his chances are
good. “I’m a very qualified candidate,” he says matter-of-factly. It
doesn’t hurt that everyone in the program already knows him and that
his letters of recommendation were penned by tenured HUC professors.
Besides the JS major, USC offers minors in Judaic studies and in
Jewish-American studies. (The former stresses philosophical and
theological themes; the latter, socio-cultural issues.) USC’s General
Education program also benefits from HUC instructors, who teach some
half-dozen GE courses each semester.
A sampling of offerings from last spring’s schedule of classes: HUC
religious philosopher Eitan Fishbane taught a course in comparative
mysticism; linguist Sarah Benor taught one on language and identity
among “hyphenated” Americans; historian Adam Rubin taught a third on
Jewish history. There was HUC head librarian Yaffa Weisman’s course on
the literature of resistance. This fall, Weisman PhD ’94, who earned
her doctorate in comparative literature at USC, offers another GE
course on Jews and Christians in the centuries immediately before and
after the life of Jesus; and theologian Tamara Eskenazi (whom Zuckerman
calls “one of the great biblical minds in the United States”) teaches a
course on ancient women in literature.
By rule, all GE courses at USC must be taught by tenured or
tenure-track faculty; the same standards apply to HUC-led courses. “We
use only those faculty of comparable status to our tenured faculty,”
says GE program director Richard Fliegel. HUC faculty also teach
Freshman Seminars – classes designed to provide small-group learning
experiences with top scholars early in the undergraduate program. In
addition, HUC faculty teach Hebrew language courses through USC’s
School of Religion. (Three semesters of modern Hebrew satisfies the
university’s undergraduate foreign-language requirement.)
You might expect HUC faculty to resent this extra workload; they
actually consider it a privilege. “Members of our faculty love to teach
at USC,” says former Louchheim School director Reuven Firestone, who
recently passed the mantle to Josh Holo.
Why? “Because for academics who believe that instruction is an
important mission, there’s something wonderful about teaching young
people who haven’t been turned on yet,” says Firestone. “In our
graduate programs, everybody has already made their professional
Firestone, himself an expert on Islam, teaches a popular GE course
called “Reading Scripture as Skeptic and Believer” that takes as its
texts the Torah, the New Testament and the Q’uran. “When you get Jews,
Muslims and Christians in the room together reading parallel material,
you get incredible discussions,” he says.
Several other HUC professors have built a following at USC. Jewish
historian Sharon Gillerman teaches a blockbuster course on the
Holocaust that enrolls up to 100 students each term. Culture critic
David Kaufman teaches a popular Jewish history course that consistently
fills a 75-seat lecture room.
“There’s a genuine hunger to learn about Jewish things – and not only
among Jewish students,” says the religion school’s Zuckerman, whose own
classes in the ancient Near East and the Hebrew bible are very popular.
HUC’s top brass have all taught at USC. Hundreds if not thousands of
Trojan undergraduates remember taking classes with David Ellenson,
current president of the HUC system. A rabbi and theologian, Ellenson
was Barth’s predecessor as dean of the Los Angeles campus. Later
Trojans will remember Barth’s popular multifaith offering, “Jerusalem
as a Holy City.”
Even Uri Herscher, founding director and chief executive of the
HUC-affiliated Skirball Cultural Center, is no stranger to USC
classrooms. As a rabbi and historian, Herscher’s expertise is in the
Jewish-American experience. Indeed, his ties to USC were pivotal in the
Skirball’s creation. In the 1980s, Herscher – then HUC’s Los Angeles
dean – floated by USC’s Robert Biller his grand scheme for a major
Jewish cultural center in the Sepulveda Pass. He later recruited
Biller, now USC professor emeritus of public administration, to help
draft the center’s strategic plan, be its first fellow and serve as its
chief operating officer.
Who knows what other institutional hatchlings may someday spring from USC’s and HUC’s shared nest?
||Art for Jews’ Sake
Anne Marie Hromadka considers USC fine arts dean Ruth Weisberg both
mentor and role model. The two women belong to a growing movement of
“Jewish artists” intent on exploring the possibilities of that
Photo by by Joe Pugliese
Marie Hromadka dreams of founding a Jewish art college. A USC
second-year graduate student in public art studies and Jewish communal
service, she has a BFA in printmaking, photography and textile arts
from the University of Denver. But when she started looking around for
an MFA program, “nothing felt right,” she says. “A piece was missing.”
That piece was religion. “I’m passionate about Jewish art,” says
Hromadka, a Dallas native. “I classify myself as a Jewish artist and my
art as being very Jewish.”
Plenty of Catholic and Protestant universities have fine arts programs,
Hromadka notes. “Christian artists are able to attend any number of
universities and study with professors who understand not just the
compositional but the spiritual dimensions of their work.” For Jewish
artists, no such thing exists. This has a lot to do with the second
commandment’s strong prohibition against making “graven images.” Yet
the number of Jewish artists – as distinct from artists who happen to
be Jews – is on the rise. People like USC dean of fine arts Ruth
A large part of Hromadka’s reason for coming here has to do with
Weisberg, an established Los Angeles artist whose themes are often
Jewish. In 2002, her religious paintings illustrated the official
haggadah (Passover prayerbook) published by the Central Conference of
Working under Weisberg’s wing, Hromadka has become active in the Jewish
Artists Initiative, a Southern California collective. Last year, she
helped organize a yearlong lecture series bringing top Jewish art
historians together. The series culminated in “Too Jewish, Not Jewish
Enough,” an exhibition mounted at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los
Angeles. This fall, Hromadka will curate a show on religious
printmaking at the USC Hillel Art Gallery – another brain-child of
Hromadka’s vision of a Jewish art college has broadened over the past
year. She’s now exploring the idea of creating a fine arts program
within an existing Jewish university or of launching a community center
with a Jewish arts and crafts focus.
“But I could also very easily see in the same school Jewish art history
classes, along with traditional art training – where the still life you
set up consists of Jewish objects,” she says. Hromadka’s Jewish art
school would also cover text studies: “Maybe you focus on women of the
Bible – and through art projects you help people to understand that midrash doesn’t always have to be text.”
The institutional camaraderie between the two schools extends beyond
educating students. “There are many other informal arrangements between
USC and HUC,” says USC president Sample. “We share libraries and online
information resources, we share scholars.”
USC’s computing division, for example, has wired HUC’s facilities with
fast network hubs and routers that tie in to USC’s elaborate computing
infrastructure. When USC and the Survivors of the Shoah Foundation
agreed last year to install dedicated super-high-speed links to the
foundation’s video archive of 52,000 Holocaust-survivor testimonials,
HUC came along for the ride: Its library now has three direct Shoah
Like most Jewish institutions today, HUC maintains very tight security,
with surveillance cameras and round-the-clock guards in and around the
facility. Even so, administrators sleep better at night knowing that
USC patrol cars also circle HUC’s perimeter, giving the small college
an added layer of protection.
Meanwhile, HUC faculty enjoy privileges at USC’s members-only
University Club and can join the USC Credit Union. They are issued
faculty ID cards, which give access to university libraries and gyms
and get reduced ticket prices at Trojan sporting and cultural events.
All USC faculty and students, in turn, have full library privileges
(including inter-library loan) at HUC’s four-campus library system –
deemed collectively the second largest Judaica collection in the world.
(No. 1 is at Hebrew University.)
The good will extends right down to the pedestrian. USC’s ground crews
take care of the Jewish college’s landscaping and building-maintenance
needs. The two schools even share property. The Trojan women’s soccer
field stands on HUC-owned land, while USC recently bulldozed one of its
vacant fraternity houses to make room for more HUC parking.
At the same time, the academic back-and-forth has never been richer.
When USC was creating its Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish
Role in American Life, HUC leaders were invited to participate at all
levels in designing the think tank’s scope and mission; Barth continues
to serve on its advisory board.
“People in religion regularly sit on our search committees at HUC,”
says Firestone. “And we’re invited to sit in on all the religion school
searches. It kind of blows my mind how good the relationship is.”
Firestone is also part of a working group that routinely develops
programs with USC and local Muslim and Catholic community organizations.
Gosia Szymanska, 24,
first learned her dad was Jewish at the age of 12, when the Iron
Curtain lifted over her native Lodz. This isn’t so uncommon in Poland:
In 1968, what little remained of the nation’s post-Holocaust Jewry
(about 20,000) fled an aggressive anti-Jewish campaign by the
communists. Those few who stayed behind, says Szymanska, went into
“semi-hiding.” With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, a
generation of young Poles discovered they had some Jewish ancestry.
Many heard it from a parent, some at the deathbed of a grandparent,
others through old family documents stuffed in a drawer. Szymanska
tells of one school friend who found out in the course of doing field
research in a rural community: The townfolk she was interviewing
claimed they remembered her grandfather, a man she had never heard of
before. She later found his grave in the Jewish cemetery.
In college, Szymanska joined the newly formed Polish Union of Jewish
Students. Soon she was working at “Beit Warszawa,” a fledgling Reform
congregation aspiring to serve Poland’s new-found Jews. The more she
saw, the more passionately she wanted to take her place as a future
leader of that community.
Today, she is working on dual master’s degrees in USC’s School of
Policy, Planning, and Development and HUC’s Irwin Daniels School of
Jewish Communal Service. “It’s a great combination for me,” she says.
“I’m really interested in how organizations work and how we can make
them more effective. At USC I learn about government and the
not-for-profit sector, budgeting issues, economics, human behavior,
organizational theory. At HUC, we look at Jewish texts and relate them
to Jewish community work – advocacy, Jewish values, caring for the
underprivileged, relations between communities of different faiths.” A
yearlong internship at the Milken Jewish Community Center in West
Hills, Calif., has supplemented book-learning with real-world
experience. She’ll need all three come next spring, when she will
graduate and return to Beit Warszawa. “Since I left, it has grown
tremendously, but it still has a lot more room to grow. And I have many
ideas,” she says.
Like Szymanska, the vast majority of USC’s and HUC’s shared alumni come
through the Daniels School (see “Dawn of the Jewish Professional,” p.
52). Many go on to have exciting careers. A good example is Stacy
Walter MA ’99, now living in New York City and running the national
young leadership council of the United Jewish Communities. Think of UJC
as the United Way of Jewish philanthropy: an umbrella for 155 Jewish
federations and 400 independent communities across North America with
$537 million in assets reported for 2004. Walters earned her dual
degrees in Jewish communal service and communications management
(through USC’s Annenberg School for Communication). She’s currently
organizing a mission that will take some 300 American federation
activists to Israel to tour Ethiopian and Russian immigration sites and
meet with various Israeli social service agencies. (Walter calls
herself – along with Rachel Chertkoff MA ’99, now a program specialist
with the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy – the “guinea
pigs” of the Annenberg-HUC joint program. They were its first
Another shared alumna is former Clinton administration chief of Jewish
liaison Deborah Mohile MPA ’94. Mohile spent her second year of study
at the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development’s satellite
campus in Washington, D.C. During that time, HUC helped place her in an
internship at the National Council of Jewish Women, working on Jewish
voter outreach in the capitol. That job segued into an appointment in
the White House office of public liaison. In 2000, Mohile signed on
with the Gore-Lieberman campaign, an odyssey that saw her managing
Tipper Gore’s convention appearance in Los Angeles and tabulating
recount figures in Palm Beach, Fla.
Disillusioned with national politics, Mohile moved to New York in 2001
and went to work for Birthright Israel, a newly hatched Jewish agency
that, in just five years, has taken 90,000 young adults from 43
countries on all-expense-paid trips to the Jewish state. The catch is,
they have to be Jews who are indifferent to or incapable of going on
their own: “Secular Jews, small-town Jews, the offspring of mixed
marriages – people for whom the concept of Zionism hasn’t come up yet,”
she explains. Participants have come from the United States, Canada,
Mexico, Brazil, India, Morocco, Italy, Venezuela, Hungary, France,
Uruguay, Columbia, South Africa, the Ukraine and other former Soviet
“We want to connect them to their own Jewish identity,” says Mohile.
What they do with the experience is their own business, she adds.
“There are no strings attached.”
Mohile, who is the agency’s communications director, says she cried the
first time she accompanied one of these groups to Jerusalem: “To see
these disconnected Jews from all over the world,” she recalls with awe,
“speaking all different languages, and realizing they had something
important in common.”
As thrilling as these
careers sound, the thought of paying tuition at two private
institutions may be daunting for twenty-somethings already swimming in
college debt. As usual, USC and HUC have worked together to find
The university gives a flat 25 percent tuition
break to any dual-degree candidate with HUC. The Jewish college,
meanwhile, hands out scholarships and loans liberally to offset its own
$15,000 yearly tuition. Students in the Daniels School, for example,
receive up to 85 percent financial aid. “Honestly, I’m very fortunate,”
says social work and Jewish communal services second-year student Adam
Halpern. “My tuition for two degrees is about the same or even a little
less than a student going to just USC.” (A University of Washington
graduate, Halpern is interested in domestic violence issues. After
finishing his dual programs, he hopes to return to the Pacific
Northwest and work as a community organizer, raising awareness of male
violence – about which, he says, the Jewish community “is in denial.”)
“We want to make sure that every student who wants to have these
degrees will have that opportunity,” explains Daniels School director
Steven Windmueller. This is especially true for foreign students, who
aren’t eligible for federal- or state-funded loans. Such was the case
of Judith Chichowolski de Jenik MSW ’05 and Ari Jenik MPA ’05. Married
students from Argentina, the Jeniks both attended HUC and USC on full
scholarships and stipends provided by HUC, the Jewish Federation and
the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee – an agency devoted to
sponsoring Jews in need overseas.
The Jeniks met at Universidad Hebrea Argentina-Bar Ilan, the only
Jewish university in Latin America. (The school has since closed due to
Argentina’s economic crisis.) “We both want to work in the Jewish
community in Buenos Aires,” says Judith. “We’re very passionate about
it.” That will have to wait, however. This summer, the couple moved to
Washington, D.C., where Ari has a job with the Jewish Federation.
Judith is looking for a clinical position there as a social worker.
“After a couple of years, we want to go back to Argentina if the
economy straightens out,” she says.
Even in the United States, finding work in Jewish communal settings
isn’t always easy. “There are jobs. Our students don’t go begging for
work,” says Windmueller. But those with dual degrees through USC, he
acknowledges, have a leg up over their HUC-only classmates. “The Jewish
community is a relatively small enterprise, and as a result the number
of choices are sometimes limiting,” he says. The dual programs, he
adds, “are the best way to proceed. If later in life you want to do
social work, but not necessarily in a Jewish setting, you still have
the social work degree.”
For Lindy Davidson, the Jewish communal
worker/dancer/rabbi-in-training, the future is bright. She and husband
Matt Davidson ’97, who was associate director of USC Hillel for the
past seven years, are pursuing their dreams. An alumnus of USC’s film
scoring program, Matt is spending the year composing a major work. And
Lindy – she’s just soaking it all in as she embarks on the
Year-In-Jerusalem component of her rabbinical studies through HUC. Last
spring, she and fine arts dean Ruth Weisberg had put on an “artist
Seder” at the USC Hillel. One hundred guests had gathered in a Moroccan
tent for the Passover meal. Weisberg had produced an interactive visual
arts piece; percussionists had furnished the appropriate musical
atmosphere. And Davidson had led the guests in a guided-movement
reenactment of the Exodus.
“It was amazing!” she recalls.
Topping it won’t be easy – but she’ll manage.