A lot can happen at The Jewish Theological Seminary in seven years; for Geoffrey Claussen, a student in The Graduate School, those years have been uniquely transformative.
Beginning his studies in 2002 at The Rabbinical School, Geoffrey doubled up his classes and earned a master's degree in Jewish Philosophy from The Graduate School before being ordained in 2007. Today, continuing his studies at The Graduate School as a PhD candidate in the Department of Jewish Thought, he is working on his dissertation about Rabbi Simhah Zissel of Kelm, one of the major figures in the nineteenth-century Musar movement.
The Department of Jewish Thought has been an intellectual home for Geoffrey, and he credits the outstanding faculty who make continuing his studies at JTS such an easy choice. "After being ordained, I decided to stay at JTS for my PhD work especially because of the faculty with whom I would be working. Thanks to its wonderful professors, Dr. Alan Mittleman and Dr. Eitan Fishbane, the department of Jewish Thought is a place where I am continually encouraged to develop both as a historian pf Jewish thought and as a Jewish philosopher," he explains.
Geoffrey studied in Israel as part of The Rabbinical School's curriculum, and soon he will be the first JTS student sent to Charlottesville, Virginia, as a fellow of The Graduate School's consortium with the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. While there, Geoffrey will work on his dissertation and become a member, as he describes it, "of a group of fellows who regularly meet to discuss contemporary culture and models of human flourishing."
Joining him in Virginia will be his wife, Katy Claussen, who was invested as a cantor by the H. L. Miller Cantorial School and College of Jewish Music this past May. The couple recently celebrated the birth of their first child, Eliana Dorit.
JTS has been a central part of Geoffrey's life, nurturing his passion for learning and his desire to collaborate with fellow thinkers. In the future, he hopes to teach Jewish ethics, theology, and practice at the college level.
No matter where his studies or career take him, Geoffrey knows his time at JTS has provided a wealth of knowledge and experience that will continue to shape him, his family, and his future students for many years to come.