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New rabbi strives for community
Many lessons are learned in the classroom but for Reena Judd, much of what she knows came far from the chalkboards.
“When I was asked what the most important thing I learned at rabbinical school was, I said it was poverty. But it was the poverty I saw during my commute from Hamden to New York City,” Judd said.
Judd has taken real life lessons like these, along with her outgoing personality and warm smile, and has brought her knowledge and skills to Quinnipiac University to fill the vacant spot for a rabbi.
“I’m the first full-time rabbi at Quinnipiac. I work a 35-hour week, Monday through Friday,” Judd said.
A native of Hamden, this is not Judd’s first time on the Quinnipiac campus.
“My mother used to be the librarian at the school, so I grew up here. I see people from when I was little,” Judd said.
An avid traveler, she has been everywhere from Ohio to Spain to Israel, where she served in the army for three years. ”
I did dishes,” she said. “But it was hard, nasty. There is a fear that infiltrates everything. It was a very intense experience.”
Here she also learned lessons outside of a desk and chair.
“I learned in the army you don’t always get what you want. The power of many is greater than the power of one; and that I’m not a joiner.”
After returning from Israel, Judd got her bachelors degree in social work and art history from Southern Connecticut State University.
“I decided that I wanted to do something concerning Judaism everyday, so I went to Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institution of Religion when I was 28,” Judd said. “I got my masters in Hebrew Letters, and that culminated in my rabbinical ordination.”
When the Quinnipiac position opened, a colleague of Judd’s suggested she apply.
Now that Judd is here, her goal is to build a vibrant Jewish community on campus.
“If more people [have] a living relationship with their faith, some of the challenges this campus has had to encounter might not be quite so stressful,” Judd said.