How Hillel helped Rebecca Kogan find her career.



by Rebecca Kogan (senior Psych major, Jewish minor)

I grew up in Mamaroneck, NY and attended Scarsdale High School. In my junior year I had a teaching internship in an elementary school. From that experience, I decided the teaching profession wasn’t for me. I couldn’t see myself as an authority figure. Things changed this summer. My mother talked to me about my strengths. She explained that when I know my subject I’m a passionate communicator.  I started to rethink teaching with an eye on my  interests - Judaic Studies and Science.

Here’s how Hillel made a difference. One of the first Hillel events I attended this Fall was the Hillel BBQ. Program Associate Riana Goren mentioned there was a job teaching at Temple Beth El Hebrew School in Chappaqua. After an interview, I was hired to be one of four teachers to work with a kindergarten and first grade class which has a total of twenty 5 and 6 year olds. We are teaching them about Jewish Holidays and what it means to be Jewish. I taught them the “Boker Tov” song I learned on Birthright, and now we sing it at the beginning of every class. It’s really important to know the schedule for the day in advance. It’s a lot of running around but I love the results. Last week the students made mini paper torahs. They were asked to write down something important they thought should be in a torah. I was struck by their creativity.

So much has changed for me in such a short time. After my HOW Birthright trip last December, I became so excited about my Jewish identity. I dug into my family’s origins in Moldova and other places in Eastern Europe. I realized that Birthright was only the beginning, and decided I needed to meet the Israeli part of my family. I returned to Israel this summer with my parents to visit family in Tel Aviv and Haifa. These were relatives that I had never known. I met a great uncle who looked exactly like my recently deceased Grandpa. It was an emotional and very touching experience.

Thanks to this new hebrew school job, I now realize what I want to do with my life. I want to be a teacher and I have Hillel and Birthright to thank for that.

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