By Rachel Gross
Eve Posen was ordained in May. Fast-forward three months, and she can be found as the new campus rabbi at the Ann and Nate Levine Academy, bringing her passion for Jewish education to the forefront.
Rabbi Posen joined Levine Academy last month as part of the Schechter Residency in Educational Leadership (SREL) program, a three-year fellowship designed to create a career path to day school professional leadership.
She said her goals are to provide kids with a fun, meaningful Jewish experience and to strengthen the Jewish identity of the Levine community.
“If kids have a place where Judaism is fun, they are going to grasp onto concepts and it will become important in their lives,” she said. “If I can create the connection for these kids and they like coming, then I’ve done my job. [This position] gives me the opportunity to teach people that are open and willing to learn … it will allow me to make a difference in Jewish education.”
Posen added that other objectives for this year are to rework tefillah (prayer) to focus on depth and meaning; have experiential services with yoga, meditation and art projects; and work with the Early Childhood Center to infuse Judaism into the lives of Levine’s youngest students.
Other components of her will job include teaching seventh- and eighth-grade Judaic studies classes that will center on the ethical covenant; typical rabbinic duties like officiating b’nai mitzvah and giving divrei Torah; and also being a liaison to different synagogues in the area.
She believes that creating a strong community and a Jewish environment is vital for students.
“This is a Conservative school with a pluralistic attitude,” she said. “We have kids from Chabad and Reform synagogues. My job and the school’s role is to make sure that when the students are in social studies, there is a Jewish component. We have the core seven values to live by that are distinctly Jewish. If we put that into everyday living, we are living a good life inspired by Judaism and that’s what day school is about — providing that foundation.”
Judaism has always been an important part of Posen’s life. Growing up in West Bloomfield, Mich., she attended shul weekly with her family; she said that’s where she fell in love with Judaism. In sixth grade, she learned about shiva and mourning after her grandfather died and was interested to learn more.
In college at the University of Michigan, Posen was the conservative minyan leader at Hillel and the religious life committee chair; it was then she knew she wanted to be a rabbi. She received her master’s degree in Jewish education from the Fingerhut School at AJU in Los Angeles.
Posen began teaching during her sophomore year in college and taught at LA Hebrew High during rabbinical school. She credits this as heightening her love for teaching.
“I love working with kids. When they start to understand something, you can see their brain working; it inspires me every day,” she said. “Being here for three years will allow me to see them grow up. I get to work with the ECC, all the way up to eighth grade. The most adorable thing is going to the ECC and watching them do the Sh’ma. To hear them saying it and seeing the parents and grandparents getting nachas from them, it’s inspiring and really makes everything worth it.”
Posen said she is looking forward to building relationships with the students, parents and faculty and getting to know Dallas.
She hopes to be relatable and to bring a fresh face to the table. As the first female rabbi at Levine, Posen said she wants imbue egalitarianism.
“I grew up not being able to be in a minyan or lead services and was the first female at my shul to wear tefillin on a regular basis at age 12,” she said. “Being here speaks to egalitarianism to the fullest extent. Since my bat mitzvah, everyone said I was going to be a rabbi. It’s inside me and there is nothing else I could be doing in life that would make me this happy.”
When she’s not at school, Posen enjoys reading, cooking, walking and spending time with her husband, Duncan Gilman.
Posen said she is excited for school to start next week and is anxious to see what these next three years will bring. She added that this job allows her to delve into many different areas while still staying true to her passion.
“I want to create a place that when the kids come out of Levine, they have a well-rounded education and an inherent love of Judaism,” she said. “This is a great community and the school is willing to move forward and try new things. That’s a blessing in a first position — to do what I love in a place that’s open to going through change. It’s wonderful.”
Wende Weinberg, director of Jewish studies and programs, said Posen is a dynamic, engaging and passionate teacher and believes she will make an impact on everyone.
“She embodies all that we were looking for at Levine — warmth, knowledge, wonderful interpersonal skills and the ability to lead,” she said. “Rabbi Posen will formally and informally be involved in educating all of our students, from the very youngest to the oldest. She will touch the lives of our students on a daily basis and be a role model for them.”
Randy Fleisher, president of the Levine board of trustees, added that he believes Rabbi Posen will engage the students and provide them with knowledge, leadership and vision.
“She is an energetic, charismatic person, and I believe she will engage the children, faculty and staff,” he said. “We are excited to start off our 31st year. We are looking forward to the next 30 years and beyond, and have a strong team in place.”