Q: What is your name, title and role at Jewish LearningWorks. How long have you worked here?
A: My name is Deb Fink and I’m the Director of Family Learning. I rejoined the staff of Jewish LearningWorks in 2015 and have worked here for a total of 7 years, since 1999, in various roles related to youth and families.
Q: Where do you live and what do you like about your neighborhood/community?
A: I live in Berkeley and can’t imagine living anywhere else! In addition to how much I value the natural beauty, the wacky vibe, the outdoor lifestyle and the social politics, I have found that it’s the right Jewish community for my family. We’re out-of-the-box and hard-to-label in terms of observance but that works just fine at our shuls, Netivot Shalom and Beth Israel, as well as the many other Jewish organizations we frequent.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your journey - what did you do before you joined our team?
A: After finishing my M.Ed. in School Counseling, I went to work in New Hampshire. Wow. As someone whose entire childhood and young adult life were spent immersed in Jewish communities, I found myself figuring out what it meant for me to be Jewish in a place without other Jews. Through a deep dive into my own beliefs and practices I wound up spending three years in Israel, learning and growing and exploring my Jewish path while working with camps, teen tours, and other educational programs. As opposed to the Jewish education I grew up with (which was focused on acquiring specific knowledge in order to observe traditions, participate at synagogue, etc) I came to understand the role Jewish engagement can play in developing a sense of purpose, meaning and identity. Since that time, and throughout my subsequent career as a Jewish educator, I have sought out professional opportunities that focus on Jewish learning that is transformational for the learners.
Q:What excites you about your work
A: I’m excited about empowering parents to raise children in Jewish homes that feel relevant and meaningful to their unique families. Our modern communities are extremely diverse and we are developing innovative approaches to “meet them where they are”. Jewish LearningWorks is a place where I feel supported to experiment with new ideas and where I have fantastic colleagues to turn to for collaboration.
Q: Describe a time that you really felt like you/your work made a difference
A: One fabulous summer in Israel, I was the Director of Ramah’s Day Camp for English speakers that mostly served families visiting from abroad. I loved designing the program and supervising the staff who led educational activities on campus and tiyulim around Jerusalem. It was very inspiring to see the children developing their relationships with Israel, many for the very first time, and to be guiding the team that was facilitating that process.
Q: Describe a time that felt really challenging for you.