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Alumni Paying It Forward:
Shannie Goldstein and the Community of Hebrew College

By Joshua Polanski
rabbinical shabbaton 2022

“The learning was stimulating and challenging, but what has lasted are the relationships and the memories of being with my class and my teachers,” said Shannie Goldstein of her time at Hebrew College in Prozdor and in the college’s undergraduate program in the 1950s-60s. “That was such a positive experience and I want others to have that kind of experience.” To pay that experience forward, Shannie and her husband, Rabbi David Goldstein, have made a generous annual commitment to dedicate to the rabbinical school and cantorial program Shabbaton each year. (Pictured above: Rabbinical students at the 2022 shabbaton.)

The annual Hebrew College Shabbaton kicks off the school year and celebrates the opportunity to learn together. The weekend is filled with beautiful davening, learning, and shared meals. The 2023 and 2024 Shabbatot will take place at Camp Ramah in Palmer, MA. The gathering helps rabbinical students connect with one another and build meaningful relationships before the start of the rigorous academic year.

rabbinical shabbaton 2022

“Thinking back to my cohort’s first few weeks at Hebrew College, it was obvious that we were all getting to know not only each other, but the dynamics of our class. Once the shabbaton rolled around though, and after it, we felt like a far more cohesive and intimate group, ready to meet the coming years head on,” said Rabbi Joshua Greenberg, a member of the most recent class of Hebrew College ordained rabbis. “Sharing bunks, participating in activities under starlight, swimming and enjoying the outdoors together, quickly cemented many close friendships that would not only last the duration of rabbinical school, but hopefully long after it ends.”

rabbinical shabbaton 2022The Goldstein’s support of the Shabbaton ensures that future generations of Hebrew College graduates, like Rabbi Greenberg, have a chance to form those lifelong and potentially life-altering friendships. After all, personal relationships are at the heart of rabbinic life. (Right: Rabbi Dan Judson with rabbinical students at the 2022 Shabbaton.)

Shannie was one of the “double load kids,” a term that affectionately refers to the Prozdor and undergraduate students at Hebrew Teachers College who in addition to their Hebrew College education were double enrolled with a full course load in other local high schools and colleges. The difficult load management and workload helped members of the class form indelible friendships and memories.

Her time at the College certainly left an impression on Shannie, who taught Hebrew and Jewish studies for most of her life. Following graduation in 1964, she worked and lived in a variety of places, including teaching Hebrew in Yokohama, Japan while David was stationed there as a military chaplain, before moving to Baltimore, Maryland. In 1978, they settled down in New Orleans, Louisiana where she taught in the Jewish studies department at Tulane University for 25 years, as well as teaching afternoon Hebrew school and Sunday school. Deciding she needed a change around her fortieth birthday, she got her master’s degree in social work from Tulane University—and, in classical double-load kid fashion, still worked as a Hebrew teacher. She maintains an almost 40 year career as a social worker.

It’s the people from her time at Hebrew College that Shannie Goldstein best remembers. “I have such a love for my classmates. We’re all 80 now but I don’t see 80-year-olds. I see a bunch of 17-year-olds, coming in with our green school bags and our hundred books,” she recalled. Recently, at some alumni events, she has been able to reconnect with classmates who she lost touch with or just hasn’t seen over the years. “It’s such a joy to be able to connect with my classmates,” she added.

But many of her strongest memories come from their year abroad in Israel. Something about the trip—spending time together outside of the academic classrooms and being in the company of like-minded peers with an interest in Judaism, Jewish culture, and the Hebrew language—inspired Shannie and her friends. The same friendships can be made on any group trip or retreat, whether it’s a year, a semester, or a weekend, as it is with the Shabbaton. “If you’re together with a group for a weekend, you’re going to make connections that will somehow last. It’s not the academics that stay with you; it’s the feelings,” she said.

And that is why she’s paying it forward. With the support of Shannie and David, future students will have a chance to share in those experiences and to make those memories—and perhaps some of them will last a lifetime.

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