Rising fifth-year rabbinical student Jacob Leizman has been chosen for the 2022 seminary program of the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE). Jacob joins a diverse group of eighty FASPE fellows who were chosen through a competitive process that drew applicants from across the US and the world. He is one of thirteen seminary students chosen for the fellowship.
FASPE provides a unique historical lens to engage graduate students in professional schools as well as early-stage practitioners in the fields of business, journalism, law, design and technology, medicine, and seminary. Fellows participate in a two-week program in Germany and Poland, which uses the conduct of seminarians in Nazi-occupied Europe as a way to reflect on seminary ethics today. The 2022 fellowship will take place from June 24-July 8.
Jacob shared, “Growing up with a dad who teaches ethics, I’ve had an interest in ethics, took a few ethics courses in college, and am always interested when the topic comes up in my HUC course content. Rather than an academic pursuit, FASPE is really applying ethics in the world. It appealed to me to have these weeks with interfaith colleagues to study and discuss some of the hard but important questions in the world today.”
FASPE studies the perpetrators to emphasize the essential role of professionals and to ask how and why professionals abandon their ethical guideposts. The FASPE seminary program examines the role of seminarians in the Nazi state, underscoring the reality that moral codes governing seminarians can break down or be distorted with devastating consequences. With this historical background, the seminary fellows are better positioned to confront contemporary issues. The program offers an approach that differs from the usual classroom experience in seminary schools by providing a holistic curriculum that looks beyond the specifics of formal rules to focus on ethical problems faced by individual seminarians in the various settings within which they practice.
“By educating students about the causes of the Holocaust and the power of their chosen professions, FASPE seeks to instill a sense of professional responsibility for the ethical and moral choices that the fellows will make in their careers and in their professional relationships,” said David Goldman, FASPE’s founder and chairman.
Jacob and his peers will participate in daily seminars led by specialized faculty who engage fellows in discussions and critical thinking about both the historical and the contemporary. The seminary program is strengthened by the diverse perspectives of its participants and the power of place and context. The experience of the seminary fellows is enhanced by traveling alongside the medical and journalism fellows, who together—in formal and informal settings—consider how ethical constructs and norms in their respective professions align and differ.
Jacob said, “I hope to connect with the other clergy students of other faiths on the trip, just as I had a meaningful interfaith experience last summer doing chaplaincy at Bellevue Hospital. Both of these interfaith experiences complement my studies at HUC. I hope to gain critical thinking and application skills as far as how to address the pressing ethical issues of today, which I think is a responsibility of clergy, including the rabbinate. I hope the experience, faculty, and other students on the trip will help me develop that sense of how to keep a focus on the bigger ethical questions of today. So much of the rabbinate can be responding to immediate congregational needs, which is very important and I feel like I have gotten a good amount of experience with that in internships. This will allow me to focus on bigger questions at the same time.”
To learn more about FASPE and its programs, visit www.faspe-ethics.org.