Yael Buechler, 24

Jewish educator wears her passion on her nails

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

After considering the weekly parsha, 24-year-old rabbinical student Yael Buechler shares the Torah portion in her usual way: by painting her nails.

As a community religious and social organizer, Buechler is always looking for new ways to bring people together and connect them in a new way with Judaism.

One of these ways has been painting her nails to coordinate with the nearest parsha or holiday (such as one nail for each plague), and the practice even got her featured in Tablet magazine. Buechler works tirelessly to infuse others with the enthusiasm she feels towards Judaism. “I try to put my full self into everything,” she says, “I tend to have a lot of energy and don’t sleep much.”

As a student at JTS, Buechler co-coordinates the Women’s Center, Isha el Akhota, where she tries to create a space for the female students to share their issues and concerns about being a woman in the modern workforce. She recently brought in a job coach who specializes in training women who will have professions that involve public speaking. She also works part time as the program director of Congregation Beth El in South Orange, N.J., both leading services and teaching.

Buechler also serves as gabbai at the independent minyan Kehilat Hadar in Manhattan, where in addition to assisting with services and maintaining the group’s website, she has headed several initiatives, including the new Seudah Shelishit in Central Park. She hopes to continue encouraging people to connect with their Judaism in any way that they can, be it by linking Shabbat to the “green” movement or organizing a hamantashen baking party. “Every little step people take,” she says, “is inspiring to me.”

Fit and focused: Buechler is on kickball and running teams and ran a half-marathon twice.

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