In past years our SVARA fellows have included:
Amir Starr Weg moved to Chicago in 2009 after a brief stint hanging out in the Kosher Halal Co-op at Oberlin College. In Summer 2011 he participated in The Adamah Fellowship, a three month Jewish farming intensive, which nurtured his love of Jewish community and taught him many farming skills. These days Amir works on and off as an urban farmer, builds Jewish community at Moishe House Rogers Park and studies Environmental Science at DePaul University. He has been learning in the S&M Bet Midrash since 2013 and is excited for the opportunity to support others’ learning as a fellow.
Sara Sandmel grew up in Hyde Park and moved back
to Chicago last year after a brief hiatus in the great state of Minnesota and abroad. While in Minnesota, Sara studied Religious Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Macalester College, where she wrote a thesis on mikveh (ritual baths) and feminist re-imagining of ritual. Upon moving back to Chicago, Sara found SVARA through the Institute for the Next Jewish Future and immediately fell in love with Talmud study. From 2013 to 2015, Sara at the Jewish Enrichment Center in Hyde Park where she sought to grow a love of text and Talmud and traditionally radical Judaism in a much younger set of students. Whenever possible, Sara finds a frisbee to throw around or a bicycle to ride. Sara is now the Program Director here at SVARA.
Born and raised in the Midwest, Kadin Henningsen is an artist, educator, and currently a graduate student in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he also teaches the next generation of feminist killjoys while researching and writing his
master’s thesis on passing and Jewish concepts of deception (“’I shall appear to him as a trickster’: G’neivat Da’at, Passing, and the Ethics of Self-Presentation in Jewish Texts”). His scholarship is disciplinarily promiscuous, with an interest in feminist, queer, trans, and Jewish studies. Before returning to the Midwest, Kadin spent ten years in Southern California where he worked at the Huntington Library while organizing the transgender Jewish community in Los Angeles. He was the first transgender person to serve on the Board of Directors for Beth Chayim Chadashim, the world’s oldest LGBT synagogue, and has previously held fellowships with NewGround: A Partnership for Muslim-Jewish Dialogue in L.A. and Kevah: Making Space for Jewish Education in Berkeley, CA. In addition to his academic work, Kadin is a practicing artist and holds a BFA in conceptual performance art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has shown work in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Madison. In his free time, Kadin likes to talk about his next meal and is an amateur pogonologist (study of beards). He lives in Madison, WI with his two cats, Stanley and His Girl Friday, and commutes to Chicago weekly, purely for the love of SVARA and queer Talmud.
Miriam Grossman, currently in rabbinical school at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, is a Jewish educator and community organizer. Previously, Miriam was the inaugural Talmud Fellow at SVARA. In addition, Miriam taught at the Jewish Enrichment Center, a pluralistic Reggio Emilia-inspired children’s program, combining arts-based exploration with traditional Jewish study. A co-founder of Jewish Solidarity and Action for Schools, from 2012-2014 Miriam mobilized Jewish people across Chicago to join low-income communities in the fight for education justice in Chicago. Prior to JSAS, Miriam was a Program Director for AVODAH: the Jewish Service Corps and a Jewish Community Organizer with the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs. In each of these roles she worked to infuse vibrant spirituality and ritual into community-based social justice work. In 2011, Miriam won the 20/20 Award for her work with JCUA, educating Jewish youth about racial and economic injustice in Chicago. Miriam also previously served as a rabbinic intern for Mishkan Chicago, where she performed spoken word poetry and delivered divrei torah year-round, in addition to helping plan the first ever high holiday services for this dynamic independent community. While in rabbinical school, Miriam is also a Wexner Fellow and a CIRCLE Fellow with the Center for Inter-Religious & Communal Leadership Education.