Student Spotlight: Meet Fifth-Year Rabbinical Student Jenn Queen - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Student Spotlight: Meet Fifth-Year Rabbinical Student Jenn Queen

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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

This year, Jenn is serving as the National Office of Recruitment and Admissions Intern for the New York campus. In this role, Jenn is assisting Rabbi Andrew Goodman in planning Open Houses and visits for prospective students, creating a supportive environment for interviewees to the rabbinic, cantorial and education programs, and representing HUC-JIR at outreach events such as Trybal Gatherings in the Berkshires.  

Jenn moved around a lot growing up – from Boston to Boca Raton, to Dallas, and many places since – but always found her people and her voice in the Reform Jewish community. Spending summers at URJ camps, high school weekends at NFTY events, a gap year in Israel on a Reform program, Jenn came to know her rabbis (and the educators and youth staff who went on to become rabbis) as reliable, inspirational sources of warmth and support for every member of her communities, and she seeks to emulate that same generosity of knowledge and spirit in her own rabbinate. 

Prior to HUC-JIR, Jenn earned bachelors’ degrees in Jewish Studies and human sexuality from Indiana University, a Master of Public Health degree at The George Washington University, worked on sexuality education initiatives for American University and Planned Parenthood of Virginia, and served as the national Field Organizing Manager for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, an interfaith reproductive justice advocacy organization. Though human sexuality and Judaism may seem like disparate interests, Jenn’s pursuit of the rabbinate was inspired by both, equally. Judaism’s prophetic call for justice, for equitable treatment and access to resources was instilled early on and led Jenn to seek opportunities to make those values manifest in the world. 

As she found her voice for justice in reproductive rights advocacy during college and gained skills through her public health and community organizing training, Jenn realized that the rabbinate was her path: bringing together her love of being with and supporting people -- facilitating opportunities for meaningful encounters with Judaism and spirituality in intentional community, though music, meditation, activism, food, crafts; whatever excites people!  – and giving support to those people to gain knowledge, build skills and make meaning together, whether gathering for Shabbat, around a campfire, or to make change for issues they care about. Jenn loves that Judaism is a practice that can’t be done alone, and that only together can build the communities and the world we want to live in. 

Jenn chose HUC-JIR for rabbinical school, not only because she grew up in the Reform movement, but because, upon walking into the New York campus, it felt most like home. HUC is a place where students are encouraged and supported to live their Jewish values – to pray with their hands and feet, bodies and souls. Jenn's involvement at HUC-JIR includes serving as the Educator for the HUC Soup Kitchen and on the planning committee for last year’s Yom Iyyun (day of learning) on sexual violence and the #metoo movement. She was awarded participation in the 2017-2018 Be Wise fellowship, which supported the beginning of her work (and realization of a long-held dream) of creating a comprehensive sexuality education curriculum for liberal Judaism. Jenn is continuing to make that dream a reality as she works on her thesis, for which Jenn is exploring accounts of sexual violence in Jewish text, in order to create sexual violence prevention and consent education curricular materials to help Jewish communities become the safe spaces they strive to be.

Would you like to speak with Jenn and other HUC-JIR students? Let us know! And learn more about our Rabbinic program here.


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates leaders to serve North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.