From the Spring 2018 issue of SKYLIGHT
Words are inadequate to express the impact that the GTU—and, more specifically, the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies—has had on my life. During my time at CJS, I have grown both as a person and as an academic. CJS is a place where one learns from others’ vast academic wealth as well as from their rich personal experiences and viewpoints. I have sat at many tables (usually with some form of good food), and have listened to others present their views and interpretations on a wide array of topics. I grew so much simply from being present and engaging in these moments. I enjoyed the content of my classes immensely; however, it was the people and conversations that forever changed me.
Beyond being an endless well of valuable information, my professors at CJS cared that their transfer of their knowledge went beyond a surface level and sparked something deeper. You need only spend a few moments with Deena or Naomi to understand that they are facilitating something powerful at CJS. During my time here, the most impactful moments I had were sitting in Deena Aranoff’s office, as we discussed the points—and often chaos—in my work. I still credit Deena’s consistently potent questions and creative direction with actualizing my thesis. She never made me feel I was undertaking a losing battle, despite my own lingering fear that this might be the case. Instead, Deena made me feel I had a valuable voice to contribute to the larger academic community. As much of an undertaking and an accomplishment a thesis is, what I got from those moments under Deena’s and Naomi’s tutelage was much more valuable.
It is an incredible thing to write a thesis, but it is an even more incredible thing to believe you have something to contribute going forward. The Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies instills and nurtures that confidence in its students.
CJS is a place where people from every walk and ideology sit together at the table, both theoretically and physically, to build a community. It is a place where you will be challenged. It is a place that will change the way you see the world; things can no longer be one-dimensional, rather they are vibrantly nuanced. It is a place where you discover that you have a voice and, by extension, a place that beckons you to contribute. I’m eternally grateful that CJS is part of my life’s story.
Glennis Lamm is a recent MA graduate of CJS, and currently works as a freelance writer and speaker.