Social Entrepreneurship At JTS

Staff Writer
Friday, October 23, 2009

Many universities encourage their students to perform community service, but for students at List College it comes with a twist. The school has begun offering the Fellowship in Jewish Social Entrepreneurship, which combines social justice internships with courses that put it into a Jewish perspective. The school is the undergraduate college of the Jewish Theological Seminary. Rebecca Hammerman, assistant dean and director of the fellowship program, said the project was launched as a pilot in the spring. “We saw more and more students who would graduate and then go into social justice type work,” she said. “They would take a year off after college and work for groups like the American Jewish World Service as a way to help fix the world before going on AHA to law school or business school.” With that in mind, the fellowship was established by a group of donors that allows the students to see what they are doing in broader terms. Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay, national director of education and training at Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps and a List College graduate, teaches the seminar. She said she points out to the fellowship students the difference between community service and social justice work. The former, concentrates on meeting an immediate need and the latter but primarily looks at root causes of injustice and how to correct them. “The idea is that these are Jewish students who are firmly rooted in their Jewish identity and that they are using their Jewish values and identities to do justice and entrepreneurial work in the world .” Of the 200 students in List College, 10 will be given the opportunity to take the fellowship program, with each receiving $2500 per semester. Nicole Yeroshalmi, 23, one of five List College students in the fellowship, said she chose to work for FEGS in its behavioral health division in the Bronx. “They have treatment centers for people who have mental health issues and my job was to help plan a wellness week for them,” she said. “We tied what we were learning into social justice and how Judaism looks at it.”

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