In Judaism, the shehechiyanu blessing is traditionally recited when we do something for the first time that year—the lighting of Hanukkah candles, the sound of the shofar, the beginning of most Jewish holidays. The blessing marks the wonder of the moment of having arrived. And so, it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Cohort 4 of the Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship—a “shehechiyanu moment.”
This cohort is the largest in the history of the Fellowship—27 rabbis from across North America, almost double the size of Cohort 3. They are based in 24 different communities, including 6 on the West Coast, 3 in the Midwest, 1 from Canada, 2 from the South, 11 from the Mid-Atlantic region, and 4 from New England. Denominationally, approximately one-third are part of the Reform Movement, one-third are part of the Conservative Movement and one-third consists of rabbis part of the Reconstructionist Movement, from the alumni association of Hebrew College and other rabbinic associations. They are an impressive group, with about half having received smicha (ordination) since 2017.
This cohort also marks a new beginning for the Fellowship; we have made several important changes to the Fellowship that will start with this cohort, under the leadership of Chief Program Officer Adam Pollack and Fellowship Director Rabbi Robyn Frisch. One of those changes was refining and standardizing the curriculum based on what we learned through the evaluation of the Fellowship with Dr. Tobin Belzer over the past three cohorts. Over 18 months, Fellows will learn about research conducted on interfaith families, demographics of today’s families, as well as how to create spaces fostering inclusion and belonging. They’ll also have opportunities to consider and challenge their own boundaries when it comes to interfaith inclusion—and to contemplate areas in which they can grow; they’ll dive into cutting edge topics such as dual-faith families and rabbis who are part of interfaith relationships.
Each Fellow will also undertake a “capstone project,” to support their learning and communities. I am looking forward to learning what projects they choose to create, and to witnessing the ways in which 18Doors, their communities and people in interfaith relationships will benefit from their projects.
Our hope is that these changes to the Fellowship will allow the Fellows in Cohort 4 to understand interfaith couples and families, and deeply engage in the ways they—as rabbis, leaders and changemakers—might choose to work with, support and foster relationships with the interfaith couples and families in their own communities.
A great way to keep up to date with what our Fellows are learning, and to know what programs our Fellowship Alumni are offering—in addition to learning about many other great resources 18Doors has to offer your family and community—is to make sure you are subscribed to the newly revamped 18Doors National Newsletter. I also encourage you to check out our upcoming High Holiday events, and to share our newsletter and events with a family member or friend who might enjoy learning about 18Doors. Lastly, we’d love to hear what you think of the new design of our newsletter, and what other resources you would find valuable.