Newsletter 2020 - 2021 - Page 18

Spotlight on AJR Student , Andrea Shupack
I was one of those kids who always wanted to go to Hebrew school . When my eighth grade year found me living away from my Jewish family , I still
insisted on being dropped off at High Holy Day services . By my freshman year of college , I was teaching at a Sunday school and occasionally lay leading when the Rabbi was out of town . Yet , when my Rabbi constantly encouraged me to consider going to cantorial school , I was adamant that this was not a good fit . I didn ’ t want my spirituality to get mixed up with my love of performing . After dropping my lifelong-plan to be a music teacher , and spending years teaching in synagogue schools instead , it finally started to sink in that I wasn ’ t performing when I led davening . After a decade of working as a cantorial soloist I was compelled to walk up to an AJR booth at a conference ( I shocked myself that I did this ), and declare that I was interested in not just Cantorial school , but Rabbinical school as well . As someone who has participated in and loved elements from all denominations , AJR ’ s commitment to pluralism was essential for me . When I virtually visited both California and New York ’ s schools with the same name , even though New York was not as practical , I knew in my heart that it was the right fit . It was not only warm and inviting , it was creative and inspiring . I feel so grateful that AJR exists , and lucky that they offer remote learning .
Family and friends often ask me what my plans are when I become a Rabbi / Cantor . I have to admit , I still don ’ t know . What I can say is that I am constantly growing and realizing new potential . I am a different person and leader today than I was when I started 2 1 / 2 years ago . Any school can teach you content , but AJR goes beyond that , inspiring students to be their best , and express their unique gifts . It ’ s more than a school , it is a family .
I still have a lot of imposter syndrome , but at AJR I have found new confidence and authenticity . I know that whatever paths I choose to take upon ordination , they will come from my deepest , best self - the one who has the most to offer the Jewish world . I was concerned at first about how much I could get out of an online learning experience . This journey has surprised me in many ways . In particular I ’ ve been amazed by the incredible support I ’ ve received from students and teachers , and finding that AJR is home .
Andrea Shupack
Kol-Bo Student