For Susan Schechter, Monday mornings are reserved for Jewish study. For over 20 years, she has joined a group of seven to eight women who call themselves “The Torah Babes,” and together, they dig deep into Jewish learning and Torah with Hebrew College teachers, “opening our minds to grow and our hearts to open with rigor,” according to Schechter.
Schechter came to Jewish study later in her life, having been more of a self-described “acculturated Jew” until her 40s. Her reconnection began when she and her husband, Bob, joined Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley and started Me’ah classes. (Bob had been a Me’ah student and, he says “a lifelong Jewish learner” for decades.) When Susan’s friend—and now Hebrew College board member—Deb Feinstein approached her about joining other women for a regular study group with Hebrew College teachers, she joined the group with some hesitation. “I was reluctant at first. Sometimes you choose communities and sometimes communities choose you. It was a gift that this community chose me—I discovered just how rich study could be,” said Schechter.
She hasn’t looked back since. Over the years, what started as study sessions in participants’ homes moved to Hebrew College (and then online for the past year), where Schechter says learning together is deep, spiritual and academically challenging. “I found a community of learners, women who are there to learn, to share our intellect and our hearts. That’s possible because of a wealth of intellect and spiritualism at Hebrew College and with our Hebrew College teachers,” said Schechter. “In the most recent years, we’ve been blessed to study with women teachers. Then five years ago Rabbi Sharon came into our lives, which was a true blessing for our group.”
Schechter said her connection to her teacher, Hebrew College president Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld, is a big reason that she and Bob are supporting the College’s Capital Campaign and the College’s next chapter. “Bob and I became interested in the Hebrew College Capital Campaign because of Rabbi Sharon’s vision and dream—and her courage. We wanted to support Sharon and ensure there would be a vibrant Hebrew College for generations to come,” she said.
“Susan’s right. This really is a generational story,” added Bob. “We are making an investment in a new model for Jewish life. We are so proud to be investing in the future of a thriving, intellectual and spiritual place of Jewish learning and growth.”
And for the Schechters, the vision for Hebrew College’s new home has exceeded her expectations. “I never dreamed that the collaboration could extend in the way it has. It’s bringing together a community of like-minded thinkers—organizations and partners who are all out-of-the-box thinkers,” she said. “With this new shared campus, Hebrew College will be a role model for the rest of the Jewish community here in Greater Boston, across the United States and internationally. At a time when some institutions are weakening, this vision and move is a testament to Hebrew College’s strength of vision and to what strong leadership can achieve.”
Join the Hebrew College community on May 2 from 5-5:30 p.m. when we honor Susan Schechter and four other visionary leaders at our virtual spring event. Information and reservations are available here.
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