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Sydney Ungar

Bachelor of Arts, Sociology, minor in Judaic Studies, 2017

Describe your job responsibilities:

I am the Youth Director at B’nai Jeshurun Congregation, a conservative synagogue in Cleveland, Ohio. As Youth Director, I put on social programming for congregants in grades 3rd-12th, and I work with our synagogue’s rabbinical team to plan and execute educational experiences for 7th-12th graders.

I am also the Director of The Bridge, which is a new organization that brings Jewish life and experiences to young professionals living in Downtown Cleveland. In my work with The Bridge, I plan everything from regular Happy Hours to Shabbat Clusters, where people get together to celebrate Shabbat over dinner with the same group of people once a month for three months. I also put on other various events, like sunset kayaking tours, planting workshops, Purim parties, and so much more.



What is the most rewarding part of your work?

The most rewarding part of my work is the people that I get to work with. In my work as the Youth Director, I get to know the teens who are a part of our congregation through staffing USY conventions, leading teen trips, and other events. I love getting to know them better and serving as a mentor and guide through the trials and tribulations of middle and high school. In my work with The Bridge, I get to take my peers out to coffee, get to know them, learn about their interests, and help make their visions become a reality.



Tell us about studying at the Frankel Center:

Studying at the Frankel Center taught me that Judaic Studies was so much more than just the stories that I learned about on Wednesday afternoons and Sunday mornings at Hebrew School. I learned about so many amazing parts of my history and peoplehood that I otherwise would never have known. More than this, however, the Frankel Center gave me a sense of community; I felt like I had classmates and instructors who truly cared about my wellbeing and education. I remember getting lunch frequently with my Hebrew classmates after our classes ended at North Quad, and inviting our teacher to join us (and she did!). I even went to bake Hamantaschen at my Hebrew instructor’s house once. The sense of community that I developed in my classes through the Frankel Center was completely different (and much more meaningful) than in any other classes I took during my undergraduate experience.



How did your education prepare you for your current job?

My Frankel Center education helped to prepare me for my current role in that it was a great “wake up call,” through which I learned how much there was that I didn’t know about Jewish history and the Tanach. It inspired me to want to learn more and to ask more questions, which I still do to this day. Jewish education is a lifelong process, and my time at the Frankel Center helped to remind me of this. I use that notion with my students frequently, reminding them that reaching a certain milestone in life (i.e. a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, high school graduation, etc.) does not mean that their Jewish learning journey is over – in fact, it is just beginning!



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

My biggest piece of advice (outside of the obvious: do it!) is to ask questions and go in to these classes knowing that you don’t know it all. There are going to be things that you learn about differently than how you may have learned about them in the past, and it’s important to approach these things with an open mind. There will be things that seem to contradict your past educational experiences, and there will be things that seem to supplement them. Embrace these and try your best to find a way to reconcile them in a way that feels comfortable to you.

Embrace the academic community that you get from learning with the Frankel Center, learn a lot, and enjoy every second of it!