Ethan Bair joins Hamilton this semester as rabbi for the Jewish community after eight years as a congregational rabbi, most recently at Temple Beth Sholom, Miami Beach.
Bair is a 2003 graduate of Oberlin College where he triple-majored in religion, Jewish studies, and German studies. He went on to study at Humboldt Universität in Berlin as a Fulbright Fellow.
“I see my role as that of teacher, community organizer, and spiritual adviser,” said Bair. “Rabbi literally means ‘my teacher’ in Hebrew.” He hopes to:
- establish a vibrant Shabbat and holiday community on campus, which meets the social and religious needs of Jewish students from diverse backgrounds;
- engage Jewish students where they are and cultivate the next generation of Jewish student leaders;
- redesign the kosher kitchen and space in Azel Backus House to create a welcoming center for pluralistic Jewish life on campus, which supports self-care, community-care, and wellness for Jewish students;
- forge partnerships with interfaith and intercultural groups on campus to engage in learning, dialogue, and service, especially in strengthening collaborations in social justice education.
Upcoming events include leading a cohort of students in a Jewish Learning Fellowship where they will engage in a seminar titled Ask Big Questions; High Holy Day services in the tent by the Wellness Center with catered meals in the Events Barn for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur; and a Big-Tent Sukkot event where non-Jewish students are welcome to join Hillel students in the Jewish harvest holiday.
“The Hillel co-presidents, Katie Rockford ’24 and Sophie Rubenfeld ’23, are also planning a Shabbat at the Shore at Green Lake this fall,” Bair said. “And we know Hanukkah events will be popular, as Hanukkah is in early December this year while students are still on campus.”