Dr. Stephen Hazan Arnoff, a Wexner Graduate Fellowship Alum (Class 13) is Director of Culture, Community, and Society at Shalem College. He also has a blog called Talkin’ Hava Nagilah Blues, where he recently explored the multiple meaning of stars, and how we measure our lives by them. 

“The same week that Robin Williams died, a friend of mine noted, five hundred children were said to be suffocated in the hinterlands of Iraq by ISIS, which combines the worst of the Crusaders, the Nazis, and Attila the Hun. Their push to establish a fanatical, evil caliphate is something we should really be losing sleep over. 

Still, guiltily, agonizing about geopolitical madness in dark and light, last night from my cultural perch in Jerusalem, I, like so many of us, stayed up late looking for Robin Williams – for another early stand-up clip I had not yet seen, an improv sketch with Jonathan Winters, or another reasonably deft explanation for what moved me about his death. Then when I awoke and heard the news about Lauren Bacall I thought about stars and death again. That quote from Dylan came to mind: ‘Seems like a long time ago, long before the stars were torn down’.”

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Stephen Hazan Arnoff holds a doctorate in Midrash and Scriptural Interpretation from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where he was a Wexner Graduate Fellow (Class 13). Previously, he was a Tikvah Scholar at NYU Law School and a Mandel Jerusalem Fellow at the Mandel Leadership Institute. Before joining Shalem College, Stephen served as Executive Director of New York City’s 14th Street Y, where he led that institution’s evolution into one of the fastest-growing anchors for Jewish communal life in North America. He was also the Founding Director of LABA: A Laboratory for New Jewish Culture, the managing editor of Zeek: A Journal of Jewish Thought and Culture – where he was awarded a Rockower Award for Excellence in Jewish Journalism – and the Director of Artists Networks and Programming at the Makor/Steinhardt Center of the 92nd Street Y. Stephen can be reached at hazanarnoff@gmail.com.