Jewish learning Prozdor Kicks Off Next Chapter with New Director
“There’s been a trend away from organized religion for many years now,” said Bridget Connor-Feldbaum, the new director of Prozdor of Hebrew College. “It no longer works to simply rely on a sense of tradition or obligation to motivate people to participate. We need to make the case for how Judaism actually helps individuals navigate life–how it can provide spiritual growth, intellectual growth, and a true sense of community. Teens need those things, just as we all do.”
Connor-Feldbaum is returning to Hebrew College after receiving her Master’s in Jewish Education program in 2021. She also holds a Master’s in Fine Arts from Goddard College in Vermont, where she studied theater. “It’s really fun [being back on campus] because I was an online student, and living in Louisiana when I was attending Hebrew College. So, I’m now getting the opportunity to meet people in person, as colleagues, with whom I interacted with purely over email as a student!”
In addition to her role with Prozdor, Connor-Feldbaum directs youth programs at Temple Reyim in Newton, MA—where Hebrew College is creating a new shared campus that will open in January 2023. Between Prozdor and Reyim, she plans to coordinate a diverse offering of teen programs at the Newton campus through collaborations and shared resources. “I am so excited about the new campus, which will be such a great resource for the Boston Jewish community,” she said.
Prozdor’s fall classes reflect the needs of teens right now, navigating a post-COVID world—how to relieve stress, strategies to better focus on schoolwork, how to explore your Jewish identity, and how to find happiness, including through the arts—and how Judaism can help one achieve these goals. In fact, Connor-Feldman thinks her theater and puppeteering background offers unique tools to do this.
“As far as my puppetry, I’m working right now on a new show for Rosh Hashanah, with origami paper puppets and what’s called a ‘crankie box’ to create panoramic scenes. This is a new style for me, so it’s fun to experiment with it. I’ll be performing it at Temple Reyim on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. I’d love to teach puppetry at Prozdor someday,” Connor-Feldbaum added.
“We are so delighted to have Bridget CF join Hebrew College’s Prozdor teen learning program,” said Sara Brown, the senior director of adult and teen learning. “She is a committed Jewish professional who is deeply engaged and interested in teens and their social and emotional development. With her theater background and ongoing work with youth engagement, Bridget has the power and energy to ask great questions and ignite the learning of our teens in Prozdor this year!”
“The teen years are all about figuring out who you are, what individual interests you have and what makes you unique… When I interact with teens, I find myself so impressed by their open-mindedness, empathy, and ability to articulate their perspectives,” added Connor-Feldbaum. “I see Hebrew College Prozdor’s role as helping Jewish teens navigate identity in our interconnected world.”
Learn more about Prozdor and register for the year, a trimester, or single courses at hebrewcollege.edu/prozdor.