Bridget Connor-Feldbaum, a recent graduate of Hebrew College’s online master of Jewish education program, was a recipient of a generous mid-career fellowship and is currently director of youth engagement at Temple Reyim in Newton. 

Why did you decide to pursue a master’s in Jewish education?

I was working with children in a secular setting several years ago, and my synagogue approached me to see if I would be interested in leading their preschool program. After accepting the job, I soon realized I had a lot to learn to feel confident as a Jewish educator and leader. I initially planned to take just a couple of courses and found Hebrew College through an online search. After learning more about the program, and the availability of a mid-career fellowship, I realized that seeking a master’s in Jewish education would be an excellent opportunity for me.

Were you working while studying for your master’s?

I worked full-time as an assistant director for a year and then director of my synagogue’s preschool for three years while taking Hebrew College courses online. Balancing my job, course work and family life was not always easy, but it was rewarding and meaningful because I felt that I was part of a community of passionate educators who inspired and supported me.

I was living in Louisiana but was able to connect with educators from across the country and in Israel. I was able to immediately apply what I was learning, because the course assignments and discussions invited all students to focus on their individual workplaces while problem-solving, creating curriculum, etc., all of which helped me to be effective at my job.

The course materials and instructors were interesting and engaging and discussions with my fellow students were always thought-provoking. The field experience was an especially useful experience for me, as I learned so much from visiting other schools and from teaching a preschool drama class. Other courses that were particularly helpful for me focused on educational leadership, behavior management strategies, teaching about God and creating developmentally appropriate curriculum.

Why did you decide to move to the Boston area after completing the program?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it felt especially hard to be living and raising children so far away from family, and my husband and I began seeking career opportunities here in Massachusetts, my home state. When I met Rabbi Dan Berman and the Temple Reyim community, I felt an immediate connection. They had developed a thoughtful and inspiring vision for what they wanted their youth programs to be, and I was excited about the opportunity to contribute my ideas to bring that well-articulated vision to life. Reyim is such a warm, welcoming community, and my family and I felt right at home there when we arrived last summer.

This has been an especially meaningful time to join the Reyim community as Hebrew College’s new shared campus comes together. I like to watch the construction progress and, as a Temple Reyim employee and Hebrew College alum, I am eagerly anticipating our future campus!

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