Who We Are
Chelsea Garbell

1. When were you at Hadar?

My first time at Hadar was for the winter learning seminar in 2010, and my second was in the summer of 2013

2. Where are you now (physically)?

Right now I’m sitting at my dining room table on the UWS.

3. What are you up to now?

I work for the Council on Foreign Relations on our Religion and Foreign Policy Initiative. When I’m not working I’m active with the American Jewish Committee and Planned Parenthood of NYC.

4. Is there a beautiful piece of Torah from your Hadar days that you keep close to your heart?

R’Shai’s constant invocation of the concept that all of humanity was created b’tselem elokim is something I took to heart that summer, and that I strive to act on. It can be difficult, and not least because I’m not entirely sure what I mean when I say elokim, nor am I sure that I mean anything at all. But I am often moved to act in irritation or frustration with the person in from of me, or make snap decisions based on superficial criteria. Regardless of those inclinations, I remember R’Shai’s words (and his tone of voice), and I work to modify my behavior, treating each person with the dignity and respect that their humanity demands.

5. If you could describe your experience at Hadar in one word what would it be (feel free to elaborate beyond a single word)?

Challenging. Emotionally, existentially challenging. I didn’t always feel like I belonged in a place where spirituality came easily for so many, nor did I feel like I was built to spend so much time in a beit midrash. But I carry the lessons I learned and some of the friendships built, and I keep coming back. I even tell others to do the same. Hadar is a radical place, and a difficult one, but it produces unparalleled beauty, community, and a Judaism worth emulating.