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Rabbi Shari Chen Rabbi Shari Chen

"Vahaftah Lirayacha Kamochah"
You shall LOVE your neighbor as yourself (Lev19:18)

These words from the torah portion Kedushim are truly the most important words in the Torah, and I believe they define how God has intended me to live my life. Since my graduation from The Hebrew Seminary of the Deaf I have served as the Assistant Rabbi of Congregation Bene Shalom, a congregation which serves both the deaf and hearing community. I meet and pray daily with congregants using kabbalistic methods of healing prayer that I learned in the seminary.

I thank God for leading me to Congregation Bene Shalom and the Hebrew Seminary of the Deaf. They have given me new hope, new dreams, a new life and a rewarding and blessed new future. I tell people that when I turned 40, God blessed me with cancer, and that when I turned 50, God blessed me with a new life as a Rabbi. It was because of my illness that I first came to Bene Shalom and met Rabbi Douglas Goldhamer and began practicing healing prayer. As a teacher, a religious school director and now, as an Assistant Rabbi I have seen how loving others, as you love yourself, can bring about physical, emotional, and spiritual healing.

God has given me the greatest gift of all - allowing me to fulfill my passion of working with the deaf, inspiring generations of our children, serving my congregation, and helping others to heal. I thank God for the education I received at the Hebrew Seminary of the Deaf for it allowed me to become the person who God truly intended me to be.



Rabbi Debra Nesselson Rabbi Debra Nesselson

My Rabbinical School Experience at HSD
Regardless of the subject under scrutiny, HSD always cultivated a sense of the sacred; how we as instruments and agents of God are called to turn the ordinary into the holy. Our sacred texts contained the stories of our ancestors, a personal family story to be sure, but we also grew to understand that rather than historiography, God had given us a blueprint, an eternal foundation of the human experience filled with all its vicissitudes, challenges, existential queries, and the joyous blessings of human existence. We didn't just learn our textual traditions; we also learned how to transmit them as active bearers of it and experience their relevance in our own lives. We learned that God dwells among us and between us not only in prayer but also within our exchanges. We have the ability to manifest God in our relationships.  We didn't always get along perfectly, but we found much to love in one another.

My HSD experience was warm, welcoming and inclusive. It was, in many respects, my spiritual home for eight years and within those eight years, I grew to love it and it grew to trust that upon my ordination, I could now become the rabbi it had trained me to be. I can never thank HSD enough because it enabled me to serve God through serving our community with the gifts God has bestowed upon me and for which I am truly blessed and forever grateful.



Dena Bodian Rabbinical Student Dena Bodian

My convoluted path to the rabbinate involved many seemingly disparate elements - attending a college without a Hillel presence, living in the rural South, learning to sign the Shema in Hebrew School. I'm currently studying at JTS, where I'm having a lot of big-campus experiences I couldn't have had elsewhere - working with original manuscripts, participating in inter-seminary programs, being part of a huge community of like-minded people.

At the same time, I've discovered enormous value in the small class size and individualized attention which I received at HSD. Not only was I more than adequately prepared for 'the Ivy League of rabbinical schools' - but I've brought with me many tools from HSD - things which one doesn't learn in a larger, more formal seminary. A lot of my professors at JTS have been academics, whose interest was in literary form or historical accuracy, and who often overlooked the big-picture beauty of the texts, how they help us to understand Judaism and our people's relationship with God.

At HSD, the focus is on preparing students for the rabbinate - as spiritual individuals, as inheritors of a tradition, as teachers and vessels who will transmit Judaism to future generations. Everything we learn at HSD is framed in terms of these critical questions. At HSD, my preparation for the rabbinate - both support for practical skills, as well as encouragement to explore text and ideas - has been overwhelming.



Ellen Roth Rabbinical Student Ellen Roth

My enrollment to HSD's rabbinical school was not planned, but was accidental. When I first met Rabbi Douglas Goldhamer, I was fascinated by his vast knowledge on various topics such as the Torah, Talmud and Kabbalah. Since I am deaf, I was overjoyed that I was able to communicate with him in sign language, because for the first time in my life, I can have in-depth conversations with a rabbi. I asked so many deep questions. Secondly, I called him for healing assistance. He told me about Kabbalah wisdom and prayers. That was the very beginning of my journey into Kabbalistic healing arts and rabbinical studies. The more I learn about the Torah, Talmud, Zohar and Kabbalistic studies, the more I want to learn and am very glad for the opportunity I have at HSD for higher learning. I look forward to sharing my knowledge and doing translation work on these great stories and Kabbalistic wisdom in ASL.

Not only that, I look forward to doing weddings, funerals, spiritual counseling and healing works.

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