Benjamin (Benj) Altshuler
2017 Summer Rabbinic Intern at Rockdale Temple
Benj studied Cognitive Science at Carleton College before going to Israel for 13 months of Hebrew study and cultural immersion. Benj previously traveled to Israel for 10 days on Birthright, but reveled in the opportunity to truly explore and feel at home. He is now entering his 3rd year of rabbinical school at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion.
While in Israel, Benj held an internship in the home of a blind woman named Sharona. Together they discussed literature and composed creative writing projects; he served as editor and scribe as she dictated her work. They also went on walks together with him acting as sighted guide This was a continuation of his work with Avodah in Chicago, a Jewish Americorps program. During his service with Avodah, Benj served a social service agency for the blind and visually impaired. His years of service provided Benj with an opportunity to reflect on privilege and consider how best he could give back to the wider community.
Aspirations to advocate for underrepresented populations like the blind community mingled with an enthusiasm for Jewish education, led Benj to apply to HUC-JIR. As a product of the Reform Movement, and a proud alumnus of URJ Jewish Summer camp, the seed for tikkun olam had been fostered in Benj’s soul. This passion for social justice drew Benj to K. K. Bene Rockdale Temple and the many projects sponsored by congregants and clergy. He is excited to support these endeavors and augment the Rockdale kehilla through Torah study, communal engagement, and personal encounters. Benj says he looks forward to learning from everyone at Rockdale and growing as a faith leader under the guidance of both Rabbi Coran and Rabbi Kahan.
In addition to social justice, Benj is passionate about music and travel. He loves to sing, and was even in an acapella group at Carleton called Nightshade. He is grateful to participate in the Rock Shabbat Band this summer with Rabbi Kahan. Beyond his Israel adventures, Benj has also traveled to Venice and Verona, Italy, studied for a semester in Budapest, Hungary, and more recently voyaged to the island of Rhodes, Greece, and the Monastery at Petra, Jordan.
In the future, he plans to take the lessons he learns in Cincinnati to serve the Reform community. Perhaps he will return to Chicago to be near his family, his four siblings, and 2-year-old nephew Rafi.
2017 Workum Intern at Rockdale Temple
Jay just completed his freshman year at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, where he plans to major in Communications with a focus in Sports Marketing and Advertising and minor in Kinesiology. The university has a very small Jewish population and Hillel, and there isn’t a temple close to campus. “While searching for summer internships, I wanted something that would be a building block in a career oriented in advertising, but at the same time held something even more meaningful to me—Judaism. This internship at Rockdale has allowed me to stay connected to the Jewish community outside of just coming home from DePauw for the high holidays at Wise Temple.”
“I hadn’t heard of the Workum Fund Internship until second semester of my first year of college. My mom knew a couple people in the Wyoming community in Cincinnati who had obtained internships through Workum, and had a great experience, and that encouraged me to apply.”
Jay traveled on a BBYO trip to Israel in 2014 where he spent 4 weeks exploring the land and becoming engaged with the culture. Next summer, Jay plans to participate in Birthright and perhaps Onward Israel—an internship program coordinated through Careers Cincinnati that provides Jewish college students with summer internships in Israel.
Before DePauw, he attended Wyoming High School where he played a variety of sports and was in the school marching, jazz, and concert bands. At DePauw, Jay is on the men’s soccer team and participates in many other activities and organizations on campus including student athletic advisory committee, Hillel, where he serves as the social media board member, Ultimate Frisbee club, and the Media Fellows Honors Program where he works with the WGRE radio station and D3TV news and sports network. He loves music, specifically jazz, and and expresses it through guitar, saxophone, and singing.
Jay hopes to learn about operating in a work environment, along with important aspects of marketing and advertising during his internship at Rockdale Temple. “Seeing how caring and hard working the staff at Rockdale are has opened my eyes to how a temple operates in many more ways than people expect which ranges from cooking the food and setting up for events to counting tzedakah raised by youth Sunday school goers to send to charity. Everyone has been incredibly welcoming to me, and I would certainly recommend the Rockdale internship to anyone else interested in marketing and advertising.”
“It is evident how incredible the Rockdale community members are. With many great events throughout the year, Rockdale is a place for Jewish people in Cincinnati to come together with the common goal of building a community of care, as well as a wealth of education.”
In the future he hopes to work in sports broadcasting or marketing with a dream to become part of the FC Cincinnati soccer team organization at some point in his career.