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Alumni Spotlight

Joseph Eskin

Bachelor of Arts in History, minor in Judaic Studies, 2013

Secondary Teaching Certificate, School of Education, 2013

Ninth Grade Dean, Abraham Joshua Heschel High School, New York, NY

Describe your job responsibilities:

I teach Social Studies and serve as the Ninth Grade Dean at the Abraham Joshua Heschel High School in New York. In the classroom, I help students work through primary and secondary sources to gain a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the past, and I support their growth as thoughtful learners and skilled analytical writers. Outside the classroom, I support students as they settle into high school by supporting the Ninth Grade advisory program and working to help them find their place.

 

What is the most rewarding part of your work?

I love working with colleagues who are smart, thoughtful, and kind, and who collectively have created a beautiful and pluralistic Jewish community. And I love the experience of meeting students at the beginning of their high school experience and slowly but surely learning about them, finding out who they are, and supporting them as they push through their comfort zone and grow up.

 

Tell us about studying at the Frankel Center:

I took Hebrew with Doron Lamm and always enjoyed the fun and camaraderie in those classes. One highlight was going to his house for homemade shakshuka! I also loved Julian Levinson's Jewish History survey course, which built on and reframed what I had learned as a kid in day school. And I feel very grateful for the chance to study American Jewish history with Deborah Dash Moore and Katie Rosenblatt. I remember fascinating discussions about Hester Street, Exodus, and cookbooks. I also remember Professor Moore moving us around the classroom to recreate the experience of the traditional shul that liberal Reformers pushed back against. One of my fondest memories is doing research for Professor Moore about the history of synagogue buildings and other areas of life in urban Jewish communities and being so proud and excited to read the book she wrote during that time.

 

How did your education prepare you for your current job?

I got to study history with amazing teachers in an environment that felt deeply Jewish and at the same time diverse and immersed in a world larger than the Jewish community - an experience that made me feel at home at Heschel. And I still use many of my notes, not just from my Frankel classes, but from many of my history classes, as I prepare class activities for my high school students.

 

What advice would you give to students who are considering studying Judaic Studies?

Do it! Studying Judaic Studies is a great way to make Michigan feel a little smaller and more intimate. You will encounter brilliant and thoughtful professors and graduate students, find peers who share your interests, and develop your thinking about topics that are central in your life. And you will find opportunities to develop new skills, try new ideas and concepts on for size, and expand your concept of what meaningful Jewish life has looked like and may look like yet.