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Spertus 2022 Graduates

Spertus 2022 Graduates

Spertus 2022 graduates

Spertus Institute announces the 2022 graduates of its prestigious Master’s and Doctoral programs

Lifelong learning is a hallowed Jewish tradition because it expands knowledge, roots us, and builds bonds. It makes our lives richer and our communities more resilient. In today’s world, when the need for new knowledge, insight, resources, and skills is ceaseless, this tradition is undeniably relevant.

The 41 recent graduates of Spertus Institute’s acclaimed Master’s and Doctoral programs embody this tradition. They join thousands of other Spertus alumni who advance Jewish organizations and communities around the world with their Spertus-acquired knowledge and skills.

Spertus President and CEO Dr. Dean P. Bell opened the ceremony. He said: “It is wonderful to gather for this special occasion, with guests both joining us in Chicago and tuning in from around the world. Spertus students are adult learners, whose lives outside the classroom are filled with professional and family obligations. Graduation provides an opportunity to celebrate their academic and professional achievements—and to recognize the proud colleagues, friends, and loved ones who supported them along the way.”

Spertus Dean and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Keren E. Fraiman said: “Spertus students bring many different perspectives and experiences to bear on their studies. Along the way, they enrich the learning of their colleagues as well as our faculty and staff. Our students learn, teach, and participate in a remarkable educational environment. They do so with remarkable commitment, perseverance, and accomplishment.”

Twenty-six graduates joined us in person for the ceremony.

Left photo: Friedland, Stopeck, and Ziejewski. Right: NU Chancellor Morton Shapiro

Carrying on Spertus Institute’s decades-long role as a pioneer of advanced scholarship in Jewish studies, Rabbi Michael Friedland of Sinai Synagogue in South Bend, IN, received his Doctor of Hebrew Letters. Marc Stopeck of Growing Community Media in Oak Park, IL, and Ken Ziejewski of Lake Bluff, IL, received their Master of Arts in Jewish Studies.

Twenty-three graduates received their Master of Arts in Jewish Professional Studies, completing a cohort-driven program that advances the work of those who work for Jewish organizations. The graduates included those from executive, local, regional, and North American cohorts. They are:

  • Marah Altenberg, District 20 Lake County Board Member, Lake Bluff, IL
  • Dylan Ashworth, Director of Youth & Camping, Barshop JCC, San Antonio, TX
  • Katie Babin, Director of Membership and Programming, Congregation Shearith Israel, Dallas, TX
  • Samantha Berinsky, Senior Manager of Congregational & Community Engagement, Temple Sinai; Sandy Springs, GA
  • Michelle Caplan, Director of Congregational Advancement, Congregation Neveh Shalom, Beaverton, OR
  • Valerie Chambers, Campus Director, Kennesaw State University Hillel, Hillels of Georgia, Atlanta, GA
  • Sarah Cohn, Associate Director of Engagement & Wellness, Hillel International, Cary, NC
  • Shelly Dresdner, Associate Executive Director, Temple Sinai, Sandy Springs, GA
  • Jaime Fox, Senior Manager of Women’s Philanthropy, Jewish Federation of San Diego County, CA
  • Jack Fuchsman, Young Leadership Division Associate, Jewish Federation of Cleveland, OH
  • Sarah Jarvis, Israel Program Admissions Director, Mid-Atlantic, Jewish National Fund-USA, Washington, DC
  • Brittany Kahn, Program & Operations Manager, Center for Rabbinic Innovation, New York, NY
  • Diana Kalef, Director of Development, Calgary Jewish Federation, AB, Canada
  • Rebecca Leavey, Program & Communications Director, The Haberman Institute for Jewish Studies, Rockville, MD
  • Rachel Lipson, Religious School Administrator, Temple Sholom of Chicago, IL
  • Julie Lookatch, Marketing Director, Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center, Milwaukee, WI
  • Naomi Looper, Springboard Teen Engagement Manager, Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, IL
  • Laura Wildman Rosenberg, Director of Elementary Education & Engagement, United Hebrew Congregation, St. Louis, MO
  • Devra Sadler, Manager of Youth, Family & Jewish Life, Mayerson JCC, Cincinnati, OH
  • Ian Solow-Niederman, Assistant Director, Syracuse Hillel, NY
  • Jeremy Spiegel, Youth Engagement Director & Religious School Administrator, Congregation Beth Tikvah, Columbus, OH
  • Josh Steinberg, Director of Operations, Swipe Out Hunger, Los Angeles, CA
  • Lori Tessel, Community Consultant, Los Angeles, CA
  • Rabbi Kari Tuling, Congregation Kol Haverim, Glastonbury, CT
  • Jen Weintraub, Regional Manager, Club Z, Los Angeles, CA
  • Cathy Winick, Temple Emanuel & Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, MI

Graduating in absentia from across the globe were:

Doctor of Science in Jewish Studies 

  • Elissa Berg, Lead Educator, Congregation Beth Ahm, Bloomfield Hills, MI
  • Barbara-Ann Lewis, Professor Emeritus, Northwestern University, Castro Valley, CA

Master of Arts in Jewish Studies

  • Rabbi Joel Drouet (Yoel Dror), Educator, Suffolk, UK
  • Rafael Sotto, Educator, Robbins Hebrew Academy, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Master of Arts in Jewish Professional Studies

  • Ariella Allmayer, Director, Strategic Initiatives, OneTable, New York, NY
  • Stella Beili, Director of International Fundraising Projects, Taglit-Birthright, Tel Aviv, Israel
  • Tani Prell Epstein, Chicago Director, 18Doors, Chicago, IL
  • Rebecca Frazin-Chan, Director of Admissions, Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, Chicago, IL
  • Sarah Gindes, Campus Director, Hillel at NC State, North Carolina Hillel, Durham, NC
  • Martha Goldberg, Independent Living Program Manager, On My Own of Michigan, Detroit, MI
  • Jared Isaacson, Executive Director, Cleveland Hillel Foundation, Cleveland, OH
  • Matt Rissien, Director of Congregation Learning, Temple Jeremiah, Chicago, IL
  • Susan Rizzo, Interim Education Director, Temple Sinai School of Jewish Life and Learning, Rochester, NY
  • Aya Shechter, Advisory Council Member, Council of Young Jewish Presidents, Los Angeles, CA
  • Dan Tatar, Director of Engagement & Strategic Partnerships, The iCenter, Northbrook, IL

The Graduation Address was given by Dr. Morton Schapiro, the 16th president of Northwestern University, who was presented an honorary Doctor of Hebrew Letters. Dr. Schapiro is a leading authority on the economics of higher education, and a champion of Jewish student life. In his address, he lauded the graduates, calling on them to do three things: retain a historical perspective, celebrate their victories both large and small, and thank those who helped them along the way.

Representing the graduates, student speaker Sarah Cohn said: “Each of us has experienced rich learning, rooted in Jewish wisdom and tradition. Spertus has helped me contextualize complexities and put language to what I knew deep down but had inadequate words to express. I see myself as part of a tradition of Jewish people reaching across distance and time. My education informs how I show up every day as a professional and who I am as a person.”

In speaking about this moment in time, she continued: “While the last few years have been difficult ones, we know we can lean on our traditions and one another. I honor the ways each of you has leveraged your education to serve your community during trying times, lighting the way for others.”

Sarah’s words were echoed by other graduates as they reflected on their Spertus experiences. Katie Babin of Congregation Shearith Israel in Texas said: “I leave with a strong understanding of my Jewish identity, a reassurance that I am in the right profession, and an incredible network of Jewish professionals—who are now some of my closest friends!” Valerie Chambers of Hillels of Georgia said: “If you are looking for a place to take you higher in the Jewish nonprofit world, Spertus is it.”

Join these graduates!

Those who learn at Spertus spark change
in communities around the world.
Their work impacts every aspect of Jewish life.

Spertus Institute is currently accepting applications for these programs:

Jewish Professional Studies
Students gain leadership skills and learn how to best meet Jewish community needs.
Cohorts begin this fall.
MA in Jewish Professional Studies
Executive MA in Jewish Professional Studies
Certificate in Jewish Leadership

Jewish Studies
Students explore the breadth of the Jewish experience through advanced scholarship.
Apply now to participate in the fall seminar.
MA in Jewish Studies
DS in Jewish Studies
Doctor of Hebrew Letters

PHOTOS FROM TOP | Image A (left to right): Samantha Berinsky, Devra Sadler, Jack Fuchsman, Rebecca Leavey, Sarah Jarvis, Brittany Kahn, Katie Babin, Valerie Chambers, Michelle Caplan, Jen Weintraub, Jeremy Spiegel, Joshua Steinberg. Image B: Kenneth Ziejewski, Rabbi Dr. Michael Friedland, and Marc Stopeck. Image C: Dr. Morton Schapiro. Image D: Spertus Dean and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Keren E. Fraiman, Kari Tuling, Diana Kalef, Shelly Dresdner, Lori Tessel, Cathy Winick, Spertus President and CEO Dr. Dean P. Bell. Photo E: Michelle Caplan and fans. Photo F: Naomi Looper. Photo G: Samatha Berinsky and fan. Photo H: Graduates from Cohort W showing their cohort enthusiasm, Laura Wildman Rosenberg, Student Speaker Sarah Cohn, Ian Solow-Neiderman, Jaime Fox, Dylan Ashworth, Julie Lookatch, Jen Weintraub, Marah Altenberg. Photos by Maggie Russo.

Monday, June 13, 2022