Why Judaic Studies?

Jordan Bucey Rebholz

"When I first arrived at the University of Cincinnati as a transfer student in the fall of 2012, I had no idea what to expect. I was so overwhelmed by this new environment and felt lost in the sea of students. Thankfully, my advisor at the time, John Brolley, told me about the Religious Studies certificate in the Judaic Studies Department after I explained to him that I had dreams of becoming an ordained minister.

During my first semester, I took two of the required courses for the certificate and quickly realized that it was the perfect choice for me.  Every course I have taken during my time at UC has been important in my personal formation as a student, but the courses offered through the Religious Studies certificate have also helped me to become a better human being. Being able to sit in a classroom with students from completely different cultural backgrounds and religious traditions has forced me to challenge long-held beliefs about organized religion, as well as helped me to discover new and powerful ways to connect with the diverse communities around me.

I am so thankful to the Judaic Studies Department for creating the certificate because I now feel more prepared to go out into the world and create positive change.

This fall I will be attending Yale Divinity School, where I will have the honor and privilege of studying through their Master of Divinity Program. Without the Judaic Studies Department and the Religious Studies certificate, I can honestly say I would not be as prepared to take this next step as I am.

As I move forward in my educational career, I will take with me incredible conversations with instructors that expanded my scope of what religion is, powerful classroom conversations that opened my eyes to new and beautiful ways of seeing the world, and countless binders filled with lecture notes that I know will serve as vital resources in graduate school.

I am proud to be a graduate of the University of Cincinnati, but even more proud to have been a part of the Judaic Studies Department and the Religious Studies Certificate. Thank you for inspiring me to do good things in this world and for believing in me every step of the way. I hope to make you proud."

-- Jordan Bucey Rebholz '15

Geneva Miller

"In 2000 I began my journey in ministry and my desire was to attend seminary or take some classes at a Christian University.  However, finances were a factor so I continued to avail myself to classes and workshops offered in local churches.  In 2010 I had the privilege of returning to the University of Cincinnati as the Associate To Provost Santa Ono which gave me the opportunity to take classes through tuition remission.  The next year the university began offering the Certificate in Religious Studies through the department of Judaic Studies, and I felt as if this was divine intervention for me!  I began pursuing the classes needed for this certificate and found the offerings to be incredibly diverse and interesting. 

This program provided a look at religion through a multidisciplinary lens and each professor brought passion, experience and devotion to the courses they taught.

While still working full-time and becoming a Pastor in 2013 I am proud to say that I received my Certificate in Religious Studies in May 2015 and I have since enrolled in the latest offering which is the Certificate in Biblical Studies.  With just two more classes I will be able to secure that certificate as well.  The classes I have taken have provided amazing historical insight for me into the study of religion.  I have been so pleased with the classes offered and so very appreciative of the support provided by everyone in the department. 

Thank you for providing an opportunity to see a religious worldview that helps to strengthen and fortify by own belief system and provides me with historical context that makes me better at what I do as a minister of the gospel."

-- Geneva Miller '15

Brett Musick

"Entering my freshman at the University of Cincinnati I knew two things, that I wanted to work with youth and that I wanted to continue with my Jewish learning I received growing up. I started my college experience as an education major and quickly became involved in Hillel, the Jewish Student Center on campus, and Alpha Epsilon Pi, the Jewish Fraternity on campus. After two years I realized that I did not want to become a teacher, but did not know what path I was going to choose. I decided to take a year off to receive my minor in Judaic Studies. I had learned about the department from my work with Hillel and AEPi and thought that taking some of the Judaic Studies courses would help me determine what I wanted to do after college.

During this year I was able to take advantage of some amazing opportunities that led me to choosing a career path in Jewish non-profit organizations. I saw many benefits to majoring in Judaic Studies and decided that pairing that major with a minor in Organization Leadership was the perfect match for what I wanted to do. With the help of the Judaic Studies Staff I was led towards part time work at local Synagogues and the Mayerson JCC, where I now work full time as the Youth and Family Programming Assistant.

Due to the knowledge I have received in Jewish history and thought, Hebrew, and Jewish culture I feel prepared to begin my journey as a Jewish professional! I am thankful for the Judaic Studies department and Staff for helping me during my journey and leading me in the right direction towards success."

-- Brett Musick '15

Kara Guckenberger

"I have been on a journey for many years, studying Judaism beyond what I thought I knew. A few years ago I began to accumulate a vast library of resources on various topics of Judaica. The facets of Judaism are endless and never cease to beg for interpretation and exploration. After sometime, I realized I had reached the end of what I could achieve in independent study and outside the context of institutionalized religion. I wanted to experience Judaism in an intellectual capacity. It became obvious that the manner in which to achieve this was through the academic arena.

I have been very satisfied with my experience in the Judaic Studies Department. It has been a much deeper event in my life than I had anticipated. Working with my advisor, Ari Finkelstein, Matthey Kraus and the additional exposure to HUC-JIR by taking the American Jewish History course from Gary Zola, proved to be a powerful combination of the breadth and depth of revelation I had been craving.

I feel quite prepared to proceed in my quest for graduate school. This certificate is well worth the time as I see it as preparation for anyone who wants to plunge deeper into perfecting their research and writing skills as it pertains to Judaica."

-- Kara Guckenberger '15

Caroline Sim

"I first took courses in Judaic Studies as a way to prepare for applying to the rabbinical program at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Through the financial support and mentoring received in the Judaic Studies Department, I was able to apply for the graduate certificate program.

I am very fortunate to be studying in this department. The faculty is compassionate as well as academically superlative, encouraging individual and creative thinking while fostering and guiding students to a deeper understanding of the material, incorporating scholastic excellence. I always feel welcome and comfortable exploring ideas with professors, whether or not I study with them. Classes are small, creating a sense of community with fellow students as well as a meaningful rapport with the professor. In a course I had last semester, one of my classmates was slightly shocked and impressed by how much the professor was willing to do to help a struggling classmate.

I know I will integrate the knowledge and understanding I am gaining about Judaic Studies into my future academic and professional pursuits. It is my hope that I will successfully follow the example of the Judaic Studies faculty and incorporate their pedagogical style and personal empathy into my future career as a rabbi. I would like to thank the Kim and Henry Heiman Family Foundation Fund and the Milton Orchin Fund for their generous support in my pursuit of a graduate certificate in Judaic Studies."

-- Caroline Sim '15

Laura Peterson

"My path to Judaic Studies was unconventional.  Coming from a small town in Wyoming, I had no context for my slightly morbid academic hobby of reading everything I could get on the Holocaust.  My first semester at UC, I took a class on modern Jewish History merely for fun.  The semester, I found the perfect fit for my information sponge of a brain. 

In this program I can study world history, both modern and ancient, from an entirely new perspective.

Jews have a unique history and tell stories that only the outsiders can tell.  Stories are a living link to the past.  I want to travel abroad after graduating, teaching English.  There’s no better place to start than Israel.  Rich with history and filled with people from around the world, Israel is a rich library of personal histories."

-- Laura Peterson '15