Eliana Rubin, M.Ed.L. '22
Educational Consultant, Inclusive Models
The Jewish Education Project
Please tell us about your Jewish journey.
I grew up in a Reform household. My mom is a cantor, and I was in my synagogue’s education system from Parent & Me classes to post-confirmation in twelfth grade. I served on my temple’s youth group board as well as the NFTY Southern California regional board.
Growing up, I loved being Jewish, but I always felt like it was prescribed to me, and I intentionally stepped away from my Judaism during college. I went to NYU and fully immersed myself in my theater studies. When I graduated in 2017, I was still on the outskirts of my own Judaism, and I didn’t know where to go.
In the summer of 2018, I served as the Theater Arts mentor at the URJ Six Points Creative Arts Academy, and there I discovered an entirely new world of Judaism, one in which I could view Judaism through an artistic lens. I created Jewsicals (Jewish musicals) where I took the parsha of the week and wrote a short musical number around it. Being able to interact with our sacred texts in that way was mind-opening for me. It expanded my love for education and allowed me to create my own interpretation of Judaism, our texts, and our prayers. I taught children in synagogues for the next two years, and then decided I wanted to go to graduate school and applied to the new Master of Educational Leadership program at HUC-JIR/Los Angeles.
The pandemic began after I was accepted, and my Judaism really kept me grounded during the early months of quarantine. From Shabbat services to speaking with my Jewish colleagues and friends to exploring our texts, I was able to find comfort in ways I would not have considered years ago. HUC-JIR has helped me intertwine my interests in Jewish education, theatre education, and LGBTQ+ education, and I hope to continue to explore my own Judaism to better help others explore theirs.
How is the Master of Educational Leadership (M.Ed.L.) preparing you for your career?
This program is simultaneously teaching me about Judaism, whether that’s taking a class on Torah, Modern Jewish History, or the prophets, as well as education pedagogy, such as how to write a lesson plan or work with colleagues to make change happen. I appreciate how I am able to experience what I am learning in real time. The program is setting me up for success by teaching me different ways to think about problems; if I come up against any stumbling blocks, I am able to move around them.
I love learning with and from the other students in my cohort (even though we’ve only met in person a handful of times!) and my advisor has helped me navigate through my questions about my career path and my aspirations as an educator. I feel very cared for, which brings me a lot of comfort. I believe this program has been designed to help students become well-rounded educators.
What is your favorite experience at HUC-JIR thus far?
I have been able to see tangible growth in myself. I have moments of “woah!” where I clock when I actively process something, and that is exactly what I want my students to experience. I also love how I’m able to fully be myself; I’m not expected to mitigate any one part of my being in order to show up at HUC-JIR.
What do you like to do outside of school/in your free time?
I’m a musical theater writer, a playwright, and a musician. I’ve also started to do screen writing, which has been really fun, but primarily I’m a musician. I have an album coming out this fall and a song coming out in June! Writing is my creative outlet and is the way I’m able to get things out of my brain. Beyond that, if you have a cat I will ask for pictures, and if you have access to movie theater popcorn, I will ask you for movie theater popcorn!