Alumni Spotlight | Rabbi Megan Goldman

Like many rabbis I am asked on a pretty regular basis what made me decide to go into the rabbinate as a career. I was not raised particularly religious and until my mid-20’s I had planned on a career in clinical psychology. And like most rabbis I have a number of different versions of the “why I decided to go rabbinical school story,” but when asked about the moment or experience that really served as the tipping point, I always look back to the Livnot summer program I took part in through Hillel in the summer of 2007. While I had become more observant in college and Jewish life was very much the center of my college experience at University of Pennsylvania. I still planned to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology when I took a job as the Jewish Campus Service Corp Fellow at Yale Hillel. Rabbi Megan GoldmanThe Livnot trip fell between my first and second years at Hillel and I would credit Livnot with two main things, both which are huge for me: 1) Arriving at Hillel, I loved Judaism in terms of the community and learning and specifically Shabbat observance, but I was not particularly tapped into a relationship with God and awe and spirituality. The Livnot trip was the start of my experience of living a life of radical amazement. The hike led my Micha’el up Har Yishai stands out, along with our Shabbatot, as moments where I felt more alive and appreciative than I had ever experienced in my life. This was coupled by the role modeling of our staff, and especially Sarah Herzog who I felt lived in awe of the world. Sarah met every comment someone made, every experience, ever view with a “wow” and it was so genuine I could not help but be inspired to also see the incredibleness of each moment. I have tried to live my life in a way that expresses this awe and gratitude every day since, and while I don’t always succeed, I was transformed spiritually through Livnot. 2) Before Livnot I did not realize that I was a Jewish educator who could actually pursue a career in the rabbinate, I thought my lack of day school education or yeshiva year put me too far behind, but I loved Hillel work and I was already starting to doubt my PhD plans because the idea of working in a non-Jewish field did not feel right. I can pin point the moment this started to change, it was the first Shabbat of Livnot, we were in the old city for dinner, and I gave the dvar torah. It was the first drash I had even given from just a few notes, no research, no typed out speech, just some insights I had gathered about models of leadership as I read over the parsha as my roommates and I prepared for Shabbat. I remember standing up there, in front of my colleagues, fellow Jewish professionals, and feeling “I can do this, this could be my life.” A few months later I decided to apply to rabbinical school. Eight and a half years later I am a Hillel rabbi working to create the transformative moments that I experienced on Livnot for my students on a regular basis and feeling grateful every day for my work! -Rabbi Megan Goldman

Shayna Rehberg
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Shayna Rehberg straddles the Gen X/Millennial divide in Tzfat with her four unique and creative children as an ‘unlabeled’ Jew. In all her spare time she also enjoys music, photography, blogging, collecting knives and teacups, swapping stories, and shopping in the shuk.