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Jewish learning Donor Spotlight: Lisa Gross

By Lisa Gross

lisa-grossI grew up a very secular Jew in New York City. I have always described myself as someone with no Jewish background. This never concerned me because it was very easy to be part of the Jewish community in New York. I was surprised at the difference I felt when I moved to Cambridge, MA.

When we had our first child––my girls are now 11 and 14––my husband and I committed to raising our kids in a Jewish household. As I spent time attending services and watching my girls devour their Jewish learning, I became curious about all that Judaism had to offer.

As I stepped outside of the safety of my synagogue, Hebrew College popped up whenever I looked for my next learning opportunity despite the fact that my interests were disparate and wide ranging. Among other things, I wanted to know more about the Bible stories my kids were learning, spiritual aspects of Judaism, relevance of the teachings of Torah, raising Jewish children, and making my own Jewish home.

I found that Hebrew College offered everything. Eventually, instead of landing by chance at Hebrew College, I started going there first to view its offerings. Then I started pouring over the articles and blog posts. I love that I stumbled upon Hebrew College and have navigated it independently and under the radar since, participating in whatever I find interesting.

This past year I had the good fortune to take a class with Hebrew College Rector Rabbi Arthur Green who is an expert on mysticism and neo-Hasidism. I remember taking one of Art Green’s books out of the synagogue library when my kids were in preschool. I was curious about Kabbalah, and I could not understand one word. Now, ten years later, I found myself learning from the master himself and, although much of it remains beyond my capabilities, I could understand the concepts and thoroughly enjoy the journey. During this same time I was able to take classes with two other incredibly gifted teachers, Rabbi Or Rose and Layah Lipsker––and that was just during this past term.

I took my first class at Hebrew College knowing nothing. I wanted to be able to keep up with what my children were learning at a Reform Jewish institution, and I have never looked back. It was a leap of faith. I worried about feeling intimidated by my lack of knowledge and thin Jewish background. The teachers and students I have encountered have been only welcoming to me. Everybody has been warm, kind, and encouraging. I now describe myself as a seeker. Regardless of who I am at any given time, there is no better place to go to learn.

Part of my Judaism has been quietly giving back to the world in whatever ways I can. After COVID started, I thought a great deal about the things that add meaning to my life. Hebrew College is one. Without realizing it, Hebrew College has become a place that I search out, always enjoy and want to see grow and thrive. Therefore, this year, I am giving back to Hebrew College.

Join Lisa in unleashing intellectual rigor, personal engagement, and spiritual creativity by making your gift to Hebrew College before the close of the fiscal year on June 30, 2021 by clicking here today.

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