You may call me master.

With my fellow MAJPS classmates Shalom Klein and Rachel Kesner
With my fellow MAJPS classmates Shalom Klein and Rachel Kesner

I am pleased to announce that after two and a half years of weekly classes, intensive seminars, papers, mentoring sessions, and a final thesis project, this past Sunday I graduated with a Master of Arts in Jewish Professional Studies from the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership.

COHORT OF FRIENDS
Since September 2012, my classmates and I embarked on this journey of learning about Jewish history, modern Jewish culture, non-profit management, and working with others. In addition to top-notch classroom professors, I loved learning from my fellow classmates, who were like unofficial teachers to me. We discussed experiences and challenges in the Jewish community and put our heads together to imagine a future world where our community thrives.

With my amazing mentor, Betsy Gomberg
With my amazing mentor, Betsy Gomberg

MENTORSHIP
I gained an amazing mentor and friend, Betsy Gomberg, the director of marketing and communications at Spertus. I treasured our monthly meetings as a chance for me to learn and grow from one of the best in the business.

CERTIFICATE
A requirement of our master’s program was to complete an outside course, so I decided to enroll in a program to earn a Certificate in Jewish Leadership through Spertus and Northwestern University in the spring of 2013. Through this program, I gained another incredible cohort of classmates who became friends and mentors.

FINAL THESIS PROJECT
As the classes (such as “This American Jewish Life,” “Working with People,” “Major Jewish Value Concepts,” “On Becoming an Effective Jewish Leader,” and “Fundraising,”) came to a close in summer 2014, I began working on my final thesis project. After what seemed like months of deliberating over a topic — this is my one chance to save the Jewish community in 50 pages so I better make it count! — I decided to focus on chavurah groups in synagogues. If you would like to read the 54-page essay, which includes case studies from synagogues and churches, click here.

My thesis was accepted in January 2015.

GRADUATION
This past Sunday, I graduated with several of my classmates and dozens of other Spertus students from other programs. Donning the traditional cap and gown, along with a special master’s hood, the completion of the degree finally felt real to me.

THANK YOU
I am deeply grateful to everyone at Spertus who made this program so worthwhile — to the Spertus staff, the professors, the members of my cohort, and my mentor Betsy. Thank you to the staff and congregants at Temple Jeremiah, my amazing employer, for being so supportive of this program and helping me every step of the way. And finally, thank you to my parents and my fiance, Adam, for being the world’s best editors (even when my paper was more than 50 pages) and the world’s biggest supporters.

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