With the start of the 2020-21 school year upon us, we are highlighting members of the incoming class of students. Click here to see all of the posts in this series.
Today we’re talking with incoming MJS student Judy Bloomfield.
Q1) Where do you live?
Q2) How did you first hear of AJRCA?
Last November, a friend suggested I speak with Cantor Fran Burgess who is an AJRCA alum. Soon after our conversation, Fran forwarded an email about the December Spiritual Care & Education Seminar on “The Power of Narrative: Experiences of Meaning Making,” which I attended (sitting at my kitchen table) and thoroughly enjoyed – that was my first experience with both AJRCA and Zoom!
Q3) What was it about AJRCA that drew you to enroll here?
Several things – I found my early conversations with Robin Federman very inviting, comfortable and thought-provoking and then something clicked for me during the April Open House when I discovered the “Music in Jewish Life” track within the Masters in Jewish Studies program. I have been saying “yes” to invitations to sing and speak at life cycle events in recent years, and I’d like to have more Jewish knowledge and skills to bring to these experiences. Conversations with local clergy as well as some of AJRCA’s faculty and alumni fueled my interest and helped me clarify my goals of becoming a cantorial soloist while also continuing my pursuits around Holocaust education. I was especially moved by one alumni’s reflection on AJRCA: “It’s a lovely place to learn – flexible and supportive, they let me sculpt what I wanted to learn.” The ability to study remotely with in-person gatherings in LA 3x/year is a good fit for me (I grew up in LA, so it feels a bit like returning home). The intergenerational student body, transdenominational aspect of the school’s philosophy, and the emphasis on spiritual development were all draws for me as well.
Q4) What were you doing prior to enrolling?
I’ve been an active volunteer with Jewish Family and Community Services East Bay for the past several years, and served as Board President from 2015-2018. I am also writing a book of braided memoirs for teenagers on the legacy of Holocaust trauma and resilience, based on my mother’s memoirs of surviving Auschwitz and labor camps in WWII. I present my family’s history and artifacts to middle and high school students in local schools, and help lead a Second Generation Group as well as Holocaust education and remembrance activities through my synagogue, Temple Beth Abraham in Oakland. I also enjoy Pilates and studying vocal technique.
Q5) As you embark on this experience, what are you most excited about?
I am embarking on this new student life at the same time I am embarking on my new “empty nest” stage of life. It’s a powerful time of transition, and I am excited to delve into learning, discovering and contributing to the AJRCA community.