August 30, 2002
Lisa Freitag-Keshet Named MHC's Jewish Chaplain
Photo: Fred LeBlanc
Rabbi Lisa Freitag-Keshet,
the leader of Congregation Tikkun v'Or/Ithaca Reform Temple in
Ithaca, New York, has been chosen as MHC's new Jewish chaplain.
In her new position, Freitag-Keshet will lead Shabbat and holiday
services, offer counseling, and develop programming. She will
have an office in Eliot House, home of the college's Office of
Religious and Spiritual Life.
"I am incredibly
excited about my work at Mount Holyoke," Freitag-Keshet said.
"I have a strong commitment to developing Jewish community
and helping people of all ages find spiritual meaning in the Jewish
tradition and Jewish culture. I am a supporter of progressive
causes and look forward to bringing this aspect to the campus."
Says Andrea Ayvazian, dean of religious life, "Rabbi Freitag-Keshet
brings to the Jewish community on campus and the College community
as a whole a depth of experience, a loving and available heart,
and a lively and creative mind that will enhance life at Mount
Holyoke in untold ways. We are delighted to welcome her here."
was recommended by a search committee representing the College's
Jewish faculty, students, and staff, will divide her time between
carrying out her duties as chaplain and working with Anita Magovern,
the College's Catholic chaplain, to coordinate Mount Holyoke's
Community Service Volunteer Program. Freitag-Keshet is "committed
to interfaith work and community service, and brings particular
strength in pastoral counseling," Ayvazian said. In particular,
the new chaplain is looking forward to working with the College's
Muslim chaplain, Sister Shamshad Sheikh, and helping further strengthen
the ties between the Jewish and Muslim communities on campus.
commitment to interfaith work is in keeping with the importance
of religious pluralism on the Mount Holyoke campus. Recent interfaith
efforts include last fall's opening of a kosher/halal dining
hall, one of the first in the nation, where observant Muslims
and observant Jews can eat together; the 1999 creation of the
Abbey Interfaith Sanctuary, which is used regularly by eight faith
groups; and the establishment of a popular interfaith luncheon
from Temple University in 1989 with a degree in criminal justice,
and from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1998 with
a master's degree in Hebrew letters and rabbinic ordination.
She served as a student rabbi and rabbinic intern with the New
Israel Fund before her arrival at Tikkun v'Or, a growing
Reform congregation in Ithaca, a diverse community in upstate
New York. In her four years at Tikkun v'Or, she led Shabbat
and holiday services, taught adult education classes, provided
rabbinic counseling, and taught bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah students.
Beyond the congregation, she founded a chaplaincy group that works
on living-wage issues, served on the local Planned Parenthood
board, and helped found the Eleanor Roosevelt Free Loan Society,
which provides interest-free loans to refugees in the area of
Tompkins County, New York.
Judaism, the newest of the four major religious movements on the
North American Jewish scene, is a progressive, contemporary approach
to Jewish life that integrates a deep respect for traditional
Judaism with the insights and ideas of contemporary social, intellectual,
and spiritual life. For more information about the Jewish Reconstructionist
Federation, see http://www.jrf.org/index.html.
The Jewish community
barbecue and welcome for Freitag-Keshet will be held Tuesday,
September 3, at 5 pm on the Eliot House patio and in the lounge.