Sherry Blumberg


I believe that my earliest formation came from my Bubbe and Zeide (Grandparents) and the Rabbi Marcus Bregar and Cantor Maurice Falkow (Hazzan) of my Synagogue in Tucson, Arizona. I loved being in synagogue, listening to the melodies and chanting and the sermons. I loved the Jewish camping experience and youth groups. I loved learning and thought it should be engaging of both the mind and heart.

But my passion stemmed from a somewhat negative experience in the poor quality of some of my religious school classes. I wanted the education I received to be vibrant and exciting, challenging and stimulating. I wanted the learning to relate to living a Jewish religious life. I was frustrated that the other students could not feel the importance of and potential for joy in what we were learning. I wanted to make a difference in their education as Jews.

In that regard I would say that John Dewey, George Leonard, Abraham Joshua Heschel were some of my earliest intellectual influences. I later discovered religious educators such as Thomas Groome, Maria Harris and Gabriel Moran from outside my tradition and Michael Rosenack, Mordecai Kaplan and Eugene Borowitz from inside my tradition. I wanted to put their ideas into action for children and their families in both formal and informal settings.

When I was at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles for my master’s in Jewish Education, Sara Lee suggested that in addition to the Jewish learning and educational organizations I attended, I should become a member of the REA. It was the beginning of new directions that would flower in my later career. I already respected the magazine Religious Education and came to cherish the organization and its members as well.

I served in Congregations as a director of Jewish Education and I loved the work. After studying for my Doctorate in Jewish Education I was invited to be the first full time woman on the Rabbinic Faculty in New York at HUC-JIR. I could share my passion for Jewish learning and teaching with a generation of future Rabbis, Cantors and Educators. I was passionate about family education, active learning and religious experience. I spent 14 years teaching in this position. In the end, I did not receive tenure and had to choose where I would best be able to teach my passions. I still wanted to mentor others.

I came back into Congregational life and my family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There, after a few years I was offered to teach at the Catholic Seminary in addition to working with the synagogue. This offer helped to shape the passions that I follow in my last years of working. I became as passionate about helping others to understand Judaism in order to engender respect and to explore areas in which we could work together to create a more just and peaceful world. I also studied more about Catholic traditions and texts in order to help me understand my students better. As a teacher at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, I have been following this later passion as well.

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