The Rabbinical School Alumni

Debi Wechsler

Year Ordained: 1999
Current Position: Rabbi at Chizuk Amuno Congregation
Current Location: Baltimore, Maryland

What is your current title and what role do you serve now?

I have served as rabbi at Chizuk Amuno, a large, suburban congregation in Baltimore, Maryland, since I was ordained. I do pulpit work, teach in all of our schools, serve as Rav HaMachshir for the congregation, and oversee our Gemilut Hasadim, Bnei Mitzvah, and Young Family initiatives. Pretty much anything you imagine a rabbi might do, I do (and a few things you might not imagine as well!).

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Rabbi Adam Baldachin

Ordained: 2013
Position: Montebello Jewish Center
Current Location: Montebello, New York

What were you doing in the two or three years before you began your studies at JTS?

After graduation from List College, I taught middle school Judaic studies at Golda Och Academy in West Orange, New Jersey, which, amazingly, was the Solomon Schechter Day School that I attended in middle school. The next year I lived in Mbale, Uganda. At first I worked at an Evangelical NGO through the American World Jewish Service's volunteer corps program, developing a human resources department. I then connected with Bechol Lashon and worked with the Abayudaya, a local, indigenous Jewish community. In addition to serving as their rabbi while their own Rabbi Gershom Sizomu was in rabbinical school, I taught Hebrew in their high school and to their community leaders, led services and read Torah, managed their internet café and guest house, and organized their library. After a year of service and dedication to a Jewish community I was even more deeply committed to entering rabbinical school.

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Rabbi Cantor Hillary Chorny

Ordained: May 2014
Position: Cantor at Temple Beth Am,
Current Location: Los Angeles, California

What were you doing in the two or three years before you began your studies at JTS?

As an undergraduate, I thought that I was heading down a career path in politics. I was working as a b'nei mitzvah tutor and music director on the side in a few congregations in the greater Washington DC area when I realized that I loved my work in the Jewish community far more than any of my classes. So I switched gears academically and did everything I could to prepare for the application process to the H. L. Miller Cantorial School. I became a Jewish Studies major and focused my minor in jazz music on vocal training. Instead of writing a thesis on the impact of shifts in constitutional law, I wound up writing a thesis on the history of mikvah in America; when my classmates were preparing for jazz band gigs, I was laboring through the Katchko "Hashkiveinu" for my JTS interview.  By the time I was completing my year in Israel, I knew that I wanted to pursue something other than a standard path to the cantorate. The more that I spoke with my mentors, the more I realized that my goal was to get a rabbinical education. Convincing myself that it was possible to study for both the rabbinate and the cantorate at the same time turned out to be a wrenching process. In the end, it was the support of JTS faculty that opened the door to my crazy double journey: they recognized that a rabbinical education and a cantorial education are distinguishable, yet the rabbinate and cantorate can absolutely be harmonized within an individual career. I've found that to be utterly true in my first professional position. Six years of arduous coursework and sleepless nights have given me a priceless skill-set. Now, I proudly wear both hats in my work, though I still can never decide which title to use in my signature.

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Michael Uram

Date Ordained: 2005
Position: Executive Director and Campus Rabbi at Penn Hillel
Current Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania  

How does your role differ from what you imagined when you began your rabbinical studies?

When I began studying at The Rabbinical School, I was filled with trepidation about being a rabbi, making a difference, and deepening my Jewish knowledge. Once I actually began working as a rabbi, I realized there are so many to make Judaism come to life, to change people's perceptions of what it means to be a rabbi, and to experiment with new models of creating Jewish life. 

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Rachel Ain

Year Ordained: 2004
Position: Sutton Place Synagogue
Current Location: New York City

What were you doing in the two or three years before you began your studies at JTS?

I was studying at both List College and Barnard College through the Double Degree Program. I knew I wanted to be a rabbi, so I applied directly to The Rabbinical School my senior year of college.

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