Good Question for Elul: How Do We Really Define Our Sense of Personal and Communal Obligation?
To unravel the complexity of our Wexner Graduate Fellowship Summer Institute’s theme, fellows had to explore the personal and communal implications of Jewish “obligation.” With so many fellows in disagreement about whether their Jewishness and Jewish leadership necessarily implied a theologically, culturally or historically driven sense of obligation, it was challenging to create frameworks for our conversations. Amazingly enough, though, as the institute drew to a close with preparations for the annual Beit Cafe, my class spent nearly two hours sensitively navigating its very wide spectrum of religious sensibilities and social values in order to satisfy every person’s needs. In recognition of our obligation to each other and to every individual within a pluralistic community, we created a class presentation representative of our shared struggle. Perhaps, then, that nexus point visible in the reciprocity between individual and community is the most fruitful ground for conversations around Jewish obligation.
In May of 2014, Malka Fleischmann, a Graduate Fellow in Class 25, completed an MA at Harvard Divinity School, where she was a member of the Presidential Scholars Program. This past summer, Malka returned to Camp Stone as an alumna staff trainer and traveled to Berlin as a participant in the IJCIC-Vatican Emerging Religious Leadership Conference. In summers past, Malka staffed a Taglit Birthright trip with national Hillel and worked at Camp Stone for nine years, serving most recently as the Rosh Moshava (Head of Camp). During college, Malka chaired her campus interfaith organization, co-founded and chaired a Muslim-Jewish community service group, served as Editor-in-Chief of the campus literary magazine, was a Jewish Studies Bassini intern and sat on the University Council and Undergraduate Assembly Steering Committee. She also served as a religious life liaison to the chaplain’s office, volunteered for the West Philadelphia Tutoring Project, and was a Jewish Dialogue Group participant. Malka can be reached at email@example.com.