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FAN-tastic Guest Presenters...
By Sierra Debrow, ISJL Education Fellow
Each year, we have several tracks that are taught by speakers who are professionals in their fields. This year, as the ISJL enters our 18th year, we asked former Fellows to teach the tracks at our conference. Who knows a ton about our communities’ needs? Former Fellows, of course? This June we will present topics ranging from interfaith inclusion to technology to informal education strategies. But before we learn from these former Fellows, let’s get to know more about them and the time that they spent at the ISJL!
Our first presenter is Arielle Nissenblatt. Arielle was an Education Fellow from 2014 to 2016. One of her fondest memories of her time as a Fellow is when she drove through six states in six hours on her way from Jackson to Paducah (Kentucky) for a visit! Arielle says that she is, “so grateful for [her] cohort of Fellows,” because, “they were (and are!) [her] best friends.” When you meet her at the conference, ask Arielle to name all 82 counties of Mississippi – in alphabetical order!
Next on our roster is Amanda Winer, who was an Education Fellow from 2012 to 2014. Amanda’s favorite memory is of the time that she united the ISJL congregations in McAllen and Brownsville (Texas) for a Hav’dalah service on the beach at South Padre Island. An important lesson Amanda learned during her Fellowship was that, “no matter how many times you copy edit curriculum, you will always find a teeny error in the final product. This was a good reminder to work hard, but also to forgive yourself for the little mistakes!” During her time as a Fellow, Amanda found her love for yoga. Since leaving Mississippi, she completed over 300 hours of yoga teacher training, and is now a yoga teacher and meditation coach in New York City!
Alachua Nazarenko will also be teaching a track this year! She was an Education Fellow from 2013-2015. As a Fellow, Alachua got to stay with, “so many wonderful host families in so many different states.” In her second year, on a spring visit to one of her communities, the host family handed her a key. Confused, she asked, “what’s this?” They told her, “it’s a key to our house so that you can always come back.” The relationships she made on the road have stayed with her! Fun fact: if you’re ever looking for a karaoke partner with extensive knowledge of 90s country music, Alachua’s the partner for you!
Beth Kander-Dauphin was one of the first ISJL Education Fellows from 2003-2005. Her favorite memory of her time at the ISJL is the first ever ISJL Education Conference in August 2003! It was held at an Episcopal camp outside of Canton (Mississippi) and was the start of a “brand new adventure.” Beth has worked for the ISJL off and on for more than a decade years, while also pursuing her writing career. Be sure to check out Original Syn by Beth Kander—coming out this September!
Our next track presenter is Allison Parshall. Allison was an Education Fellow 2009 to 2011. During her tenure as a Fellow, Allison met her husband, Josh Parshall, who is now the Director of History at the ISJL! When they met, Josh was an Oral Historian and she was an Education Fellow. Allison fondly recalls developing a Pet Blessing Ceremony and leading it with a community in Brunswick (Georgia). She also had an awesome time going to a Pink Floyd Laser light show at the planetarium in Montgomery (Alabama)!
Rabbi Andrew Terkel will also lead a track at this year’s conference. He was an Education Fellow from 2007 to 2009. One of his favorite memories was when his cohort wrote and performed a cover of Debbie Friedman’s Lechi Lach. He says it was, “a great mix of funny moments, embarrassing stories, and heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped make the experience so meaningful.” He also holds comic moments at the Neshoba County Fair and the ISJL Chili Cook-Off close to his heart. He’s had some pretty interesting experiences working in the Jewish world—even working for three separate Jewish organizations that had pet pigs!
Last, but certainly not least, is Rachel Glazer, who served as a Community Engagement Fellow from 2016 to 2018. Her sister was an Education Fellow, and Rachel decided to follow in her footsteps—but not too closely—when she joined the ISJL two years ago! One of her favorite memories of her Fellowship was when she ran a creative writing workshop with the Our Reading Family literacy program. The participants shared insight into their upbringings and their hopes for their children, making it a truly memorable experience. Fun fact: as a Georgia-born mountain woman, Rachel Glazer is always on the hunt… for the perfect biscuit, that is! Let her know YOUR favorite place to buy a biscuit when you see her at this year’s conference!
We are so excited to reconnect with these former Fellows at the ISJL Education Conference this June! Hope to see you there!