Service Corps Has A New Leader
The Wexner Foundation is excited to announce that Rabbi Michael Emerson will join the Foundation’s education team later this summer. Rabbi Emerson will assume primary responsibility for the Wexner Service Corps, a yearlong service-learning initiative for a diverse cohort of 40 Jewish high school juniors and seniors in Columbus, Ohio.
Rabbi Emerson, a Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholar alumnus, will relocate to the Foundation’s New Albany central office following four years of teaching Bible at SAR High School, an Orthodox day school in Riverdale, NY. Rabbi Emerson has previously taught at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education in its summer program for high school girls, served as a consultant for the iCenter, focusing his work on improving Israel education in America, and was a research assistant for Dr. Eran Tamir of Brandeis University, analyzing the working conditions and induction practices of new teachers in urban public, Catholic and Jewish day schools. Michael also spent six summers at Camp Stone, a Modern Orthodox summer camp. He has served as a core faculty member of the Wexner Service Corps since its inception in 2013.
Raised in Memphis, TN, Rabbi Emerson graduated from Columbia University in 2009 and is a doctoral student in NYU’s Education and Jewish Studies program. He received rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary in 2014. Rabbi Emerson is married to Adina Bitton, who will be completing her PhD in July in clinical psychology with a specialization in neuropsychology. Michael and Adina have two young daughters.
The Wexner Foundation President Rabbi Elka Abrahamson commented that Foundation co-chairmen, Leslie and Abigail Wexner, have seen firsthand the potential of this program for developing justice-minded teenage leaders. Their daughters, Hannah and Sarah Wexner, helped build and grow this initiative. “In Michael,” Abrahamson stated, “we have recruited the ideal Service Corps professional leader. He is a master high school teacher, believes in service learning and is a superb thinker. Michael will thoughtfully consider ways to strengthen the Service Corps, take it to the next level of effectiveness and expand its reach. The Corps members, the Jewish community of Columbus and the field of Jewish service learning will be enriched under Michael’s stewardship.”
The program runs annually, opening with a service-learning trip to a different city — New York (2013), New Orleans (2014), Detroit (2015) and Philadelphia (2016). Corps members then participate in monthly local volunteer projects and Jewish study. The Wexner Service Corps has been co-directed by Rabbi Ben Berger and Ruthie Warshenbrot, who are both taking on new roles in other important Foundation programs.
Led by Leslie and Abigail Wexner, The Wexner Foundation focuses on the development of Jewish professional and volunteer leaders in North America, public leaders in Israel and Jewish teenagers in Columbus. With a respect for the diversity of Jewish life, cohort-based learning and the development a network of leaders, The Wexner Foundation has never wavered from its focus on Jewish leadership excellence.