Dr. Ron Wolfson experienced a heartwarming reunion with Barbara Marcus, alumnus of the School for Jewish Education and Leadership, and one of his first students, who has since become a renowned Jewish educator. As they reminisced about their time at American Jewish University, once the University of Judaism, their conversation not only delved into shared memories but also highlighted the transformative impact of the university’s mission to advance and elevate the Jewish journey of individuals.
“Barb, it's so lovely to be together in person!” Professor Wolfson exclaimed. “How did you find my course, The Seven Questions You’re Asked in Heaven?"
“It's wonderful to see you, Ron!” Barb replied. “I'm on the AJU email list, and when I saw you were teaching this class based on your book, I just had to enroll.” Barb expressed her advocacy for AJU Open Learning courses, emphasizing how they provide a valuable service, enabling individuals like her to continue learning and growing, regardless of their current circumstances.
Their conversation drifted back to their shared past.
“I loved that you were about my age,” Barb shared, recalling how Professor Wolfson, teaching at AJU since 1975 and just a year out of his Ph.D., connected with his students as working professionals. “You came to us with so much, and the fact that you were so understanding of all that I was going through, that was really wonderful.”
Their conversation unfolded as a testament to the enduring impact of mentorship and the profound influence of AJU on students. Their paths diverged after graduation, but the values instilled continued to guide them. Barb went on to teach at synagogues like Temple Beth Hillel in North Hollywood and Ahavat Shalom in Northridge. Eventually, she found herself leading as Executive Director at Congregation Albert in Albuquerque.
Professor Wolfson asked why she chose to get her Master's at AJU. “Rabbi Elliot Dorff’s welcoming presence made all the difference.”
“Elliot recruited me too,” Professor Wolfson said, “a true gem!”
Their conversation was a celebration of the ripple effect created by a dedicated professor and the enduring legacy of Jewish education. Their shared journey also underscores the invaluable role of AJU Open Learning courses. By making education accessible to individuals like Barbara, regardless of their location or stage in life, AJU expands its reach and deepens its commitment to fostering lifelong learning.
Michelle Starkman, M.A., MBA
Vice President, Communications