Student Spotlight: Meet Fourth-Year Rabbinical Student Austin Zoot - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Student Spotlight: Meet Fourth-Year Rabbinical Student Austin Zoot

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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

As an intern with the National Office of Recruitment and Admissions and Community Engagement, Austin welcomes members of the Jewish community at large and assists them in finding their way to strengthen our mission. He meets incredible people who have brilliant things to contribute to the Jewish world, and he hopes that he is able to put them on the right path with the right contacts, whether it be the rabbinical, cantorial, or education programs, or some other place in Judaism that matches their needs.

He writes:

I have always had a passion for Judaism and for sharing that Judaism with others. At a certain point, everyone experiences the confrontation with big, meaningful questions, like what brings meaning to life and what is our purpose. I wanted to help to use Judaism as a way to help guide people to meaningful answers to these impactful questions. 

Judaism has endured for centuries because it has been willing and able to adapt to new environments and new realities. In my rabbinate, I hope to be able to continue the process of evaluating how Judaism remains relevant in the lives of those who live it, and to help people see the very modern and fast-moving world around them through a Jewish lens. 

My wife and I are both Jewish professionals, so I see a world in which we are able to work together to make the world a better, more inclusive, and more resilient place. I want to see a future that uses Jewish values and morals to set a tone for how to live life to its fullest, and to create a world in which we see the divine image in everyone we encounter.

HUC-JIR was the perfect place for me to be able to pursue my calling while attending an institution that shares my values. I found HUC to be a place of education and practice, but also one of kindness, of community, of intention, and of family. I love being able to call myself a member of this community. Plus, at HUC, we are constantly aspiring to greater, to better. We are always finding new ways to be more inclusive, to be more welcoming. To know that I belong at a place so committed to living out our pursuit of a more perfect world makes HUC home to me.

Would you like to speak with Austin 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 men and women for service to 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. www.huc.edu