1. When were you at Hadar?
I was at Hadar as a year fellow in 2010-2011. I have interloped at the yeshiva as often as I can since then.
2. Where are you now (physically)?
Now I live in Berkeley, CA. Come visit!
3. What are you up to now?
I am in law school at the University of California - Berkeley School of Law. It's a long name.
4. If you could describe your experience at Hadar in one word what would it be (feel free to elaborate beyond a single word)?
Heilige! Really. I could use a word like "Torah" or "AMAZING" or "wa-hoo!!" or even "Dena Weiss," but when you think about it, what's more apt than summing up our beloved yeshiva as totally, overwhelmingly, ground-breakingly, earth-shatteringly HOLY?
5. How have Torah and mitzot changed your life (post Hadar)?
Wow. What a great question. I feel that my life was always inspired by Torah in mitzvos, but before Hadar, I didn't have the exact tools I needed to draw out their richness and serve Hashem with joy and authenticity (not like that's always easy even post-Hadar!). Studying at Hadar gave me access to a world of Torah that had previously felt inaccessible to me. Even though I had a solid Jewish education, I don't think I had the confidence to believe I had truly inherited our Torah, that it was mine to truly explore, learn, share, and claim. The same was true with mitzvos, particularly with regard to egalitarian values. I had always felt committed to equal gender roles in the religious sphere, but I had no idea what that really looked like, and I had felt so threatened and pained in non-egal environments (like my shul at home). Post-Hadar, I feel at home in so many Jewish environments, even non-egal ones, and my religious life is now inspired by both more confidence and more curiosity. Where I was once defensive and unsure, I am now more eager to engage and grow. My growth in the year at Hadar, and through my interactions with the yeshiva as an alumna, has allowed me to take on exciting projects in my own learning and leadership roles in davenning that would have felt impossible to me before learning at the yeshiva.
6. Is there a time this past year when Hadar specifically came to mind?
There are many! But a particularly strong moment was when I was preparing to lead a Kol nidre service at Urban Adamah in Berkeley. This is the second year in a row that Urban Adamah allowed us to host a traditional, egal service for the community and we had an amazing crowd. For many folks there, the egalitarian part was more natural for them, but davenning the full, traditional liturgy was totally new. I really drew on my experience at Hadar for the confidence I needed to lead this pop-up community. I spoke about the ways in which tradition speaks to us from across history and calls us to serve Hashem in the present moment. I have past experience leading this service, but this year, I felt I drew especially on my time as a Hadar fellow to cultivate the proper atmosphere for tefillah and teshuva. (We'll be hosting the service again next year--come join us!)