Pluralistic Perspectives Illuminating Life on Campus

By 829 Studios

“My experiences at Hebrew College really prepared me to work at Hillel in some very dramatic ways. As a Rabbinical student in a pluralistic school, I learned to speak to different types of Jews.” – Rabbi Getzel Davis, Rab`13, MJEd’13

Getzel Davis stands at the forefront of a national movement that seeks to welcome college students more fully into Jewish living. With passion and wisdom honed during his years at Hebrew College, Davis reaches out to Jewish students from a wide range of backgrounds, including those who have yet to find their way to Judaism.

As rabbi and educator at Harvard Hillel, “my goal” he says “is to regularly interrupt people’s lives with moments of meaning, connection, and liberation.” That could mean teaching classes with clever names like Shal-Om and Jew Curious, or counseling students in need. The work is most rewarding, he says, when he helps students “take risks to aid in their own growth and to strengthen the good of the world.”

“It is clear to students from all different backgrounds that Getzel is very knowledgeable and takes his Judaism seriously, but he does not expect it to take the same shape in their lives as it takes in his own. He wants students to be happy with their Judaism and to find a Judaism that fits them. Getzel always has the same joy of life and genuinely kind manner with students but he offers a very different pastoral experience to each student based on what they need.” –Theo Motzkin, Harvard undergraduate student

Getzel’s passion for connecting people to meaningful Jewish life extends beyond his work at Harvard Hillel. “I became a rabbi because I believe Judaism has the power to reconnect us to our community, our family and God. Unfortunately, searching for a rabbi can sometimes make people feel disconnected or worse. I want to build communities that celebrate each and every person’s complexity.” As founder and executive director of Unorthodox Celebrations, Getzel has created a service to provide unaffiliated Jews with access to inspiring clergy at key lifecycle moments—for weddings, baby namings and bar/bat mitzvahs and to ensure everyone will know that they are strongly valued.

The Rabbinical School of Hebrew College will be celebrating Rabbi Davis and his fellow alumni serving in the Greater Boston area at Madlik, on Saturday, December 2, 7 pm at Hebrew College.

Rabbi Getzel Davis is an associate rabbi and Jewish educator at Harvard Hillel and serves as a Harvard University chaplain. Born and raised in New York City, Rabbi Davis earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Brandeis University and his Rabbinic Ordination and Master’s of Jewish Education from the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College and the Shoolman Graduate School of Jewish Education. During rabbinical school, he served as a rabbinic intern at Boston Synagogue and Spiritual Director of Eden Village Camp. He has also worked as a Jewish social justice educator at American Jewish World Service, Bend the Ark, PANIM, and Teva Learning Alliance.


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