George Altshuler '23

Rabbinical Student

Please tell us about yourself and your experience at HUC-JIR.
I am on track to receive my rabbinical ordination from HUC-JIR in New York in May 2023. I graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont in 2011, and am originally from San Francisco, CA. During my time at HUC-JIR, I have interned for synagogues in San Francisco, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. I completed clinical pastoral education with the San Francisco Night Ministry, which provides spiritual care to people on the streets of San Francisco. At HUC-JIR, I have especially enjoyed studying Modern Jewish Thought and approaches to synagogue worship. Prior to rabbinical school, I worked as a journalist for the Jewish newspapers of Washington, D.C. and the San Francisco Bay Area. I also worked as a teacher for adults studying for the GED in Washington, D.C. and for a journalism program in Haiti.

What do you love about HUC-JIR?
I love the sense of mission one feels at HUC-JIR. HUC-JIR’s students, faculty and staff are all oriented toward serving the Jewish community and doing our part to make the world a better place. As I’ve gone through my years at HUC-JIR and near the end of my program, my classmates and I have approached our studies more and more through the lens of future teachers and leaders. We learn and train with an eye toward the communities we hope to serve and our commitment to repairing the world.

What is most rewarding about your HUC-JIR program?
The most rewarding part of being an HUC-JIR student is watching your classmates and yourself grow. Even as someone who came to HUC-JIR later in life, I like to give people the advice of “let HUC-JIR change you.” Since our first year in Israel, I’ve seen my classmates and myself learn so many skills and learn so much about our tradition. But more than that, I’ve watched us grow into our roles as teachers, pastoral presences, and leaders with a vision for our future.

What does HUC-JIR mean to you?
Like many people who choose to become Jewish leaders, I came into HUC-JIR with love for Jewish communities and also with critiques of Jewish communal leadership. At HUC-JIR I’ve been so pleasantly surprised not only with the extent to which this school and our movement welcome innovation and change, but also with the values and approaches of my teachers. At HUC-JIR I feel that I benefit from a long line of wise and committed people who have been invested in creating a more meaningful, ethical, and engaging Judaism. I have learned so much from my teachers, who have spent decades devoting their intellects and hearts to creating a Judaism that meets the challenges of changing times.