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Rabbi Jennifer Schlosberg to receive Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies’ Outstanding Alumni Award


Posted 10/08/2015
Posted by David Isgur


Rabbi Jennifer Schlosberg, '02, lights candles as part of the Jewish ceremony to welcome the Sabbath. (Photo Credit: Bethany Carnes Photography.)

Rabbi Jennifer Schlosberg, '02, lights candles as part of the Jewish ceremony to welcome the Sabbath. (Photo Credit: Bethany Carnes Photography.)

Rabbi Jennifer Schlosberg, photographed during a trip to Israel. (Photo Credit: Sacha Bodner.)

Rabbi Jennifer Schlosberg, photographed during a trip to Israel. (Photo Credit: Sacha Bodner.)

Teaching is one aspect of her work as a rabbi that brings Rabbi Jennifer Schlosberg a great deal of joy.

Teaching is one aspect of her work as a rabbi that brings Rabbi Jennifer Schlosberg a great deal of joy.

Rabbi Jennifer Schlosberg during a prayer service in Israel. (Photo Credit: Sacha Bodner.)

Rabbi Jennifer Schlosberg during a prayer service in Israel. (Photo Credit: Sacha Bodner.)

Jennifer Schlosberg, ’02, who has been the rabbi at The Glen Rock Jewish Center in Glen Rock, N.J. for four months, following three years as the assistant rabbi at Temple Beth Sholom in Roslyn Heights, N.Y., knows that she has found her true calling.   

However, when she left the University of Hartford in 2002, she was sure that her true calling lay in a different direction.  “I always wanted to be an attorney who specialized in helping people with disabilities,” she said, noting that she did internships in a congressional office and in the Disability Rights section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, to help prepare her for such a career. But before going on to law school, she decided to take a year off and did a fellowship with Hillel at Miami University in Ohio and then worked in other capacities for Hillel and she soon found herself being drawn to this religious/community work.

When she went to her parents to tell them that she was going to go to school to become a rabbi, “they told me that they knew all along that that was where I was going to end up. They just wanted me to find my path on my own,” she says. Schlosberg notes it was four years between the time she graduated from UHart and when she entered the Jewish Theological Seminary to start her studies that led to her become a rabbi.

And when she was contemplating this change in career paths, she reached out to her “mentors, counselors, and advisors” at the University of Hartford, including Richard Freund, professor and director of the Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies; Susan Fitzgerald, senior advisor to the president; Mala Matacin, associate professor and co-chair of the department of psychology; and President Walter Harrison. Schlosberg, who majored in psychology and minored in both Judaic studies and politics and government, noted that she has consistently reached out to her faculty and advisors here when seeking advice or support.

“I have so much gratitude for the University of Hartford,” she says. “The people here supported me in who they knew I could be. They allowed me to take risks and to fail and to learn from that.”

Schlosberg, who has been back to campus several times since she graduated, will return to be honored as the first recipient of the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies’ Outstanding Alumni Award, at a ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 18, at 1 p.m.  “This is a tremendous honor that I accept with full gratitude. But it’s not really about me,” she says. “I am who I am because of those [at the University of Hartford] who helped shape me.”

Schlosberg says that she finds being a rabbi very rewarding, in part because there is so much variety to her days. She loves being in the pulpit and writing and giving sermons; she loves offering pastoral care to the sick and counseling to those who need someone to talk to; and she loves teaching to many different age groups.

She admits that being a female rabbi does have its challenges, but she also finds it rewarding to be able to provide a positive female role model for others, including her young daughter.

“The role of the modern rabbi is difficult, as people are choosing their own ways of observing Jewish traditions, so you have to acknowledge that, but you also have to find a way to bring people together into a community,” Schlosberg says, noting that much of her job is focused on personal relationship building and community-building.

Rabbi Jennifer Schlosberg, '02, lights candles as part of the Jewish ceremony to welcome the Sabbath. (Photo Credit: Bethany Carnes Photography.)

Rabbi Jennifer Schlosberg, '02, lights candles as part of the Jewish ceremony to welcome the Sabbath. (Photo Credit: Bethany Carnes Photography.)

Rabbi Jennifer Schlosberg, photographed during a trip to Israel. (Photo Credit: Sacha Bodner.)

Rabbi Jennifer Schlosberg, photographed during a trip to Israel. (Photo Credit: Sacha Bodner.)

Teaching is one aspect of her work as a rabbi that brings Rabbi Jennifer Schlosberg a great deal of joy.

Teaching is one aspect of her work as a rabbi that brings Rabbi Jennifer Schlosberg a great deal of joy.

Rabbi Jennifer Schlosberg during a prayer service in Israel. (Photo Credit: Sacha Bodner.)

Rabbi Jennifer Schlosberg during a prayer service in Israel. (Photo Credit: Sacha Bodner.)