Jewish learning Beacons of Hope: Our Interreligious S/Heroes—Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller
Beginning this month, once a month the Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership of Hebrew College will honor an individual (or group) who inspires the bridge-building efforts of the Miller Center. Each honoree embodies the values of inclusivity, justice, and compassion in different and unique ways. These are our Beacons of Hope.
I first met Betty Ann (of blessed memory) a few months after my arrival at Hebrew College as a young faculty person in the fall of 2002. She and a small group of pioneering students from Hebrew College and Andover Newton Theological School (our immediate neighbor for many years) helped inspire me and others to work with students, faculty, and staff to make interreligious education a distinct feature of the two schools.
Her work in philanthropy and volunteerism began many years before her arrival at Hebrew College. As an undergraduate student at Stanford University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in human biology in 1983, she helped found the quarterly magazine Surviving. This was among the first publications to address the physical and emotional issues faced by cancer survivors such as Betty Ann.
After raising two sons, Adam and Matthew, her focus turned once again to communal affairs and compassionate care. She served as a founding member of the of the advisory council for Jewish Family & Children’s Service’s Jewish Healing Connections and as a parent liaison and board member at The Rashi School. Betty Ann also pursued advanced Jewish learning at Hebrew College, first by completing the Me’ah adult education program, and then a master’s degree in Jewish Studies. She also began training in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) but was unable to finish her chaplaincy training due to mounting health issues.
As a founding member of Journeys on the Hill—a joint initiative of Hebrew College and Andover Newton Theological Seminary students—Betty Ann helped bring together her peers for interreligious dialogue and to develop the interpersonal skills necessary for true bridge building experiences. She led with quiet confidence, encouraging others to bring their unique gifts to this nascent venture. She was a deeply kind and caring person, who was committed to creating inclusive and equitable communities. While Betty Ann may not have been able complete her CPE training, she served as a spiritual guide to many people.
Journeys on the Hill was a forerunner to CIRCLE—the Center for Inter-religious and Communal Leadership Education—and to the Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership of Hebrew College, established in her memory in the spring of 2016 by her beloved husband of nearly 36 years, Dan Miller.
I miss Betty Ann very much and feel honored to work in a center that carries her name and builds on her pioneering interreligious efforts. Daily, we strive to manifest the values she embodied so gracefully as a leader of Journeys on the Hill and in many other settings.
May Betty Ann’s memory continue to be a source of inspiration and blessing to all who knew her and to those who learn about her life and legacy.
Rabbi Or N. Rose is the founding director of the Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership of Hebrew College. He currently working on two edited volumes: The Book of Psalms Here & Now: Multifaith Voices (Paraclete Press, 2023), and With the Best of Intentions: Interreligious Mistakes & Unexpected Learnings (Orbis 2023, with Lucinda Allen Mosher and Elinore J. Pierce).