USC
Educational 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

For 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

You 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

Much 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.

Graduate 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 Judaic scholars.

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 Jefferson Boulevard.

“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. 28.)

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

There’s 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 Hillel director.

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.”

Pot Luck
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.

Which 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 priorities.”)

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 research university.

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 decisions.”

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 hyphenated identity.

Photo by by Joe Pugliese

Anne 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 Weisberg.

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 American Rabbis.

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 Weisberg’s.

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 hook-ups.

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 graduates.)

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 republics.

“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 solutions.

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.