Karen Pearlman (she/her)
Social Media and Digital Content Manager

Karen Pearlman

Friday, October 15, 2021

Please tell us about your Jewish journey and your journey to HUC-JIR.
As a Jewish communal professional, I believe my Jewish journey coincides with my journey to HUC-JIR. I grew up heavily involved in my synagogue outside of Boston, and Judaism has always been an important part of my life. Growing up, my Jewish community involvement provided me with wonderful friendships and values. Because of this, attending a university with a strong Hillel was important to me.

I became extremely active in Hillel at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and traveled to Israel four times in college. The UMass Birthright trip was my first exposure to Israel and my love for Israel and travel led me to go back multiple times as a student. I regularly attended events and Shabbat services and dinners, sitting in on services of different denominations so I could have exposure to more than I grew up with and get to know Judaism better. I credit my overall involvement at UMass Hillel to the trajectory of my life.

I worked at Clark University Hillel in Worcester, MA as the IACT Coordinator, focusing on Birthright recruitment, Israel programs and trips, and student engagement. From this experience, I knew I wanted to work long-term in the Jewish nonprofit world and decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. After doing a lot of work around Israel education and traveling there so often, it was important for me to experience living there short-term.

Living in Israel taught me a lot about the culture of Israeli society, Judaism, politics, and myself. At the completion of my program, I was offered a job at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, working in the Young Adult Division, and started just two weeks before the devastating shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27, 2018. That experience taught me how strong, resilient, and tight-knit the Pittsburgh Jewish community is, as well as the importance of strong community relations. A diverse range of groups and organizations were amazingly supportive allies.

Now, as the Social Media and Digital Content Manager at HUC-JIR, I get to combine everything I loved from my past positions and formal training in journalism, education, and nonprofit management in this role, while working at an organization that aligns with my values and allows me to interact with inspirational people.

Please tell me about your role, and what is most challenging and rewarding.
I manage HUC-JIR’s Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter channels — be sure to follow us! On these platforms, you’ll find a lot of great information about our programs, students, alumni, faculty, and more. The most rewarding part of my work is publicly sharing so much important, noteworthy, and inspirational news. I love learning more about HUC-JIR and the people of HUC-JIR every day.

How would you describe HUC-JIR in one word?

How can our community members share their news and achievements with HUC-JIR?
You can share this information by emailing I strongly encourage you to share! So much of what we put out into the world is because individuals contact us about their accomplishments, and no news or achievement is too small — everything is noteworthy! It is important for us to share a broad range of projects, awards, and other news so our followers can stay informed and also take ideas from another community to theirs.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I live by the mantra of making the most of every day. I love to cook and eat vegetarian food, hike and enjoy nature, exercise, and travel with my husband. We love to take weekend trips and explore as many new areas as we possibly can, while also trying out the best ice cream shops in these places.