1. When were you at Hadar?
I was at Hadar for FY 2016-17, and was a chronic short-term program participant for a few years leading up to my full-time study.
2. Where are you now (physically)?
I'm physically about a block away from the yeshiva running an errand for work right now, but I live in Washington Heights.
3. What are you up to now?
I have been working at Beit Rabban Day School since the "year" ended, and am starting as the Program Associate at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America next week.
4. Is there a beautiful piece of Torah from your Hadar days that you keep close to your heart?
The beautiful pieces of Torah that I constantly refer to are a distillation of Dena, R. Jason, and R. Shai teachings about vulnerability. When I am given the opportunity to help a person in great need, or am entirely helpless to that person, I think about how many pesukim in Vayikra (and elsewhere) emphasize nearly inextricable obligation to that person's needs. I recall R. Shai asking why Jews are more disturbed by the image of a Sefer Torah on the ground than the image of a human being on the ground. I must always confront this question as a life-long New Yorker, Jew, and human being.
5. If you could describe your experience at Hadar in one word what would it be (feel free to elaborate beyond a single word)?
Grounding. I say this because I felt increasingly more attached to the text, as well as to the idea of settling as a community with certain shared learning and ritual norms. Conversely, I was deeply focused on the schisms in belief and the heterogeneity of practice that Chazal present in various Rabbinic texts. This was initially troubling to me, having grown up with a more simplistic understanding of what practice looks like in the Rabbinic cannon. I think that exposure to machlokot, both ancient and contemporary, has given me a more realistic, mature, and stable approach for understanding and applying mitzvot.
6. How have Torah and mitzvot changed your life (post Hadar)?
I now think of Torah and mitzvot as a more literal concept than I did before Hadar. I'm more cognizant of when I'm "doing" Torah and mitzvot, and when I could be more actively engaged in both. I often think about whether my actions can be both bein adam la'makom and bein adam l'chaveiro.
7. Is there a time this past year when Hadar specifically came to mind?
Hadar specifically came to mind during my family Seder. I had led sedarim before, but I noticed the level of comfort I had with the liturgy and the texts in Shemot, and the confidence I brought to teaching the texts. I am so appreciative of the learning and teaching at/through Hadar that led up to that moment-- whether that be through Living Room Learning, various shiurim (especially R. Shai's shiur on Shemot and R. Elie's shiur on the Haggadah), or teaching through the Education Fellowship at Schechter Westchester. I was able to raise the level of discussion and reflection in a way that was palpable to my family and the other guests, and Hadar was really present in that space.