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News Highlights Hebrew College to Honor
Andy Offit and Dan Miller at 2023 Spring Gala

By Joshua Polanski
Hebrew College spring 2023 gala header

Now more than ever, the Jewish community needs leaders who model the values of empathy, humility, and communal responsibility. These virtues underlie Hebrew College’s mission to train religious and lay leaders capable of bringing healing to our world through education, service, artistry, and cooperative engagement across lines of difference.

Hebrew College will honor two lay leaders who embody these virtues at its 2023 Spring Gala: Andy Offit, Chair of the Hebrew College Board of Trustees for the last six years, and Dan Miller, the Founding Supporter of the Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership of Hebrew College. Both of these individuals model the classical Jewish concept of areivut, communal responsibility rooted in an understanding of the interconnection and interdependence of all life. Fittingly, the gala will take place at the new shared communal campus at 1860 Washington Street in Newton, MA. The theme for the evening is “Opening the Gates: Celebrating Our Interconnection.”

“I truly can’t think of two more generous and deserving honorees. Andy and Dan are both so humble that it feels like a particular honor for us that they are letting us honor them. These are two highly accomplished individuals who take pride, above all, in the achievements of others, in the learning, growth, and creativity of our students, in the gates we are opening to a new generation of leaders who want to help create a more vibrant Jewish community and a better world,” said Hebrew College President Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld.

Andy OffitAfter 25 years in the investment business, Andy Offit decided to change careers after feeling the influence of his wife Suzanne Offit’s work as a second career, Hebrew College ordained rabbi. He then graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School with an MPA degree and served the City of Somerville as special assistant to Mayor Joe Curtatone for seven years. In the spring of 2021, he graduated from Suffolk Law School having witnessed first-hand the challenges of immigrant families in Somerville, and the increased anxiety they experienced following the 2016 presidential election.

Dan MillerDan Miller spent more than two decades with Putnam Investments as the Chief Investment Officer of the firm’s Specialty Growth Equity Group and for the past 14 years has worked as a Partner and Director of Equities at GW&K Investment Management in Boston where he manages all aspects of the firm’s global equity business. In addition to co-founding the Miller Center in memory of his late wife Betty Ann z”l, he has previously served on the Hebrew College Board of Trustees and currently serves on the Finance and Investment Committees. “I take giving back to the community very seriously; it is both an obligation and a pleasure,” said Miller.

The Miller family’s history with Hebrew College started in the late 90s through Me’ah and continued with their sons’ participation in Prozdor. Betty Ann developed an interest in chaplaincy and earned an advanced degree in Jewish Studies from the College in 2005. “She was so proud of that degree, and it positioned her to pursue her dream of becoming a chaplain. I became active at the College at that time as a member of the Budget & Finance committee, and I believe I was helpful in steering the College towards financial stability over the past decade,” added Miller. “But more important than my past relationship with Hebrew College is the institution’s future, as it continues its vital work of educating the next generation of rabbis, cantors, teachers, students and lay leaders in a world where Jewish values and identity are threatened. Further, it takes seriously the need to engage constructively with others beyond the Jewish community to improve the quality of life in our country.”

Through both his time and financial commitment to the institution, Andy too has shown he takes giving back to his community seriously. “When I began my tenure as board chair, some people asked me, ‘Does the Jewish community really need Hebrew College? Is Hebrew College a relevant institution?’ After six years as chair, I can say without hesitation that we play a significant role in both the local and national Jewish communities, and we are an increasingly important presence in interreligious and inter-group efforts.”

Offit and Miller both find inspiration and beauty in the values and people that make up the Hebrew College community. “We are really good at what we do,” Offit said, speaking of Hebrew College’s diverse set of programs. “Our rabbinical school is only 20 years old, and it is the fastest growing Jewish seminary in the country. Students want to come here… they want to be a part of an inclusive and impassioned educational community. The same can be said of our adult and youth programs: transformative pluralistic learning is our specialty.”

“From its origins as The Hebrew Teachers College decades ago, the school has grown to engage a wider student body, including religious and lay leaders at different life stages,” added Miller. “I think this work is crucial at a time when Jewish identity is being challenged in our country. And with the resurgence of intolerance, interfaith dialogue and education is vital to the renewal of our society at large. The Miller Center’s programs teach youth and young adults the skills to lead in this type of environment with dignity, care, and confidence.”

The impact of the honorees runs deeper than their philanthropic commitments: individuals throughout Hebrew College and in our communal orbit feel their presence. “Dan Miller is a person of great kindness, intelligence, and generosity,” said Rabbi Or Rose, the founding director of the Miller Center. “With quiet confidence, he invites others to contribute their unique gifts and skills to any shared venture. Dan is the consummate team player, who cares most about the integrity of the work and the quality of the process.”

“It has been an extraordinary privilege to work side-by-side with Andy over the last six years,” said President Anisfeld. “He is a person whose commitment to community and to the well-being of others is so natural, so intuitive, that he can’t fathom another way of moving through the world. He understands what it means to be a partner, in the deepest sense of the word, and his generosity and devotion are boundless. Our entire community has been blessed by his wise, courageous, and steadfast leadership.”

In addition to blessings for our honorees, the spring event will include a presentation of the Esther Award to Nancy Schön, an internationally known sculptor of public art—and beloved in Boston for her “Make Way for Ducklings” sculpture in Boston Public Garden. Nancy created a special sculpture for Hebrew College’s new campus courtyard. Rabbi Jessica Kate Meyer, a Hebrew College Class of 2014 Rabbinical School graduate and professional actress and singer, will perform with other students and alumni.

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