The Jewish Theological Seminary: Why did you choose List College?
Tyler Dratch: I went to public high school, and only received an informal Jewish education. Every encounter I had with Jewish education excited me a great deal, and I knew that I would choose an undergraduate experience that would allow me to study Jewish topics in some capacity. List College provides an incredible opportunity to explore Jewish studies of the highest quality while also studying at Columbia and benefiting from an active Jewish community on campus and a vibrant city. List College fulfilled almost everything I was looking for when applying to college. It is an institution that really cannot be duplicated.
JTS: What do you enjoy most about studying at JTS?
TD: JTS provides a rigorous but warm community to explore some of the most important texts of our tradition. I am always amazed by the relevance we find in Jewish learning and the new avenues professors and students are avidly pursuing. I love living alongside students who share similar academic and extracurricular interests, and appreciate that I am in a building where it is appropriate to talk about religion and politics, unlike most of society.
JTS: Tell us about your favorite class.
TD: Reflections of Eve with Dr. Anne Lapidus Lerner was really a great class to take. The class combined Bible study, Midrash, and other rabbinic literature; Christian and Muslim exegesis; feminist criticism; modern poetry; and pop culture to explore the first five chapters of Genesis. The class discussions were always fascinating, and I really began to think about the unique ability students have at JTS to study Judaism's most significant texts through a variety of lenses. I understood the immense power we have to gain unique insight into these texts today, even though they have been in our traditions for hundreds if not thousands of years.
JTS: What do you enjoy most about being part of our community?
TD: The people are all very passionate about building the Jewish community and advancing Jewish learning. I enjoy learning with classmates who are all hoping to make positive change in the world in a variety of ways after they graduate. I think the JTS community is one where people look out for each other and truly celebrate each other's successes. I now see what I would have been missing if I did not get to experience college with the JTS family.
JTS: What person at JTS has had the greatest impact on you, so far?
TD: Older List College students. It is really amazing to see how much they have learned. Watching them has encouraged me to get involved in the community and in List College leadership. Coming into List College from public school, I have been comforted to know that so many students from a similar background have been successful in the program before me.
JTS: What are your professional goals?
TD: I am not sure what I want to do when I graduate, but I am very interested in fostering Jewish community, and being involved in public policy and government. I hope to advocate for social causes in some capacity during my life. I know that my time at JTS and Columbia will help me continue to shape these goals.
JTS: What has been the best JTS "moment" for you, so far?
TD: My first semester, I remember coming with friends to have dinner in one of the wonderful sukkot in the JTS courtyard. We sat for a very long time talking about school, life, and an endless number of topics. We really were having a great time on a beautiful night. I think you realize you are having an incredible JTS moment at a time like this, when you are having one that is unique to college in a Jewish setting. Luckily this happens all the time-that was merely one example-and when it does, you realize that you are having the most fun in your life so far, in a community that shares your values and cares about you, in a way that very few other people can.
JTS: What are your hobbies?
TD: I am very interested in politics and public policy, and maintain a blog called The Pursuit of Politics with essays on these subjects. I also enjoy playing guitar, spending time catching up with friends, and reading.
JTS: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
TD: I have a twin brother.