HUC-JIR Students Chosen to Participate in T'ruah's Human Rights Programs - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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HUC-JIR Students Chosen to Participate in T'ruah's Human Rights Programs

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Friday, June 28, 2013

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights is an organization of rabbis from all streams of Judaism that acts on the Jewish imperative to respect and protect the human rights of all people. Grounded in Torah and the Jewish historical experience and guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, T’ruah advocates for human rights in Israel and North America.  T’ruah is investing in the next generation of leaders through two human rights programs that are open to rabbinical and cantorial students.

HUC-JIR students Jason Fenster and Daniel Kirzane were chosen as two of the six rabbinical student fellows spending the summer with T’ruah in New York, working with human rights organizations and developing the skills to be human rights leaders.  They will work three days a week in partner organizations of T'ruah. These organizations work on issues of trafficking, workers' rights, torture, prisoners’ rights, and other areas of T'ruah's work. The remaining two days a week will be devoted to studying general and Jewish perspectives on human rights with rabbis and teachers from many backgrounds, learning skills to be a rabbinical human rights leader, and reflecting on the experiences of the summer.

HUC-JIR students Joshua Mikutis and Elana Nemitoff were chosen as two of the four students spending the next academic year in Israel, taking part in a special leadership track of T’ruah’s Year-in-Israel Program, which gives future rabbis and cantors the chance to engage with human rights concerns that affect Israelis and Palestinians.  This interdenominational program is an opportunity for talented students spending the academic year in Israel to learn about human rights in Israel and the West Bank and to take action on human rights issues.


Jason Fenster is a second-year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Before coming to rabbinical school, Jason served as an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, where he focused on issues of gun control, LGBT equality, criminal justice, disability rights, and voting rights. After his fellowship, he worked as the Communication Associate at the Justice Policy Institute, a criminal justice research and policy organization working to reduce society's reliance on incarceration. Jason graduated from Brandeis University in 2008, where he acted in and directed musicals, was actively involved in the Jewish community, and met his incredible wife, Gavi.



Daniel Kirzane is a fifth-year rabbinical student and Wexner Fellow at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he also earned an M.A. in Jewish Education.  He graduated from the University of Virginia with a double-major in Jewish Studies and Religious Studies and served for a year with the AmeriCorps program City Year: Washington, DC.  Daniel has served as the coordinator of the HUC-JIR Soup Kitchen and as a student rabbi in Stuebenville, Ohio and Brooklyn, NY, and he has interned at the Central Conference of American Rabbis and Columbia University Hillel.  Daniel's wife, Jessica, is a Ph.D. student in Yiddish Studies at Columbia University, and together they love to play games, see plays, and take long walks.



Joshua Mikutis, originally from Dayton, Ohio, is a first-year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. He graduated from Haverford College with majors in Religion and History and minored in Russian at Bryn Mawr College. His thesis focused on the portrayal of Jews in 1920s Soviet literature and its commentary on the conception of citizenship and nation-building. After college, Joshua worked at a charter school in Boston and an independent school in Dayton. He then was an AVODAH Corps Member in New York City where he worked at the New York Legal Assistance Group in the Immigrant Protection Unit. He continued after his year at AVODAH and stayed at NYLAG where he balanced paralegal responsibilities and grant management for a grant helping recent immigrants obtain employment authorization and then find jobs.



Elana Nemitoff completed her first year of rabbinical school at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem, and is excited to be taking a year off in order to improve her Hebrew and explore the landscape of Judaism in Israel. Having received a B.A. in psychology from Washington University in St. Louis in 2012, Elana is working with kids with special needs. Hailing from Kansas City, Kansas, Elana is thrilled for the opportunity to continue exploring the ger in Israel, including who they are and how they fit into the quilt of civil society life. Elana has spent the last three summers working at the URJ Goldman Union Camp Institute (GUCI), in Zionsville IN.




T’ruah continues the historic work of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America, which was founded in 2002 and renamed T’ruah in January 2013.  Learn more.

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.