Adath Israel Congregation is excited to welcome a new addition to their team, Rebekah Skirball Miller. With over twenty years of experience as an educator, Miller has worked in both Jewish day schools and congregational education programs. Most recently, she worked as a middle school Hebrew teacher at the Leffel School in New York for eleven years, serving as the Hebrew Department Chair for the last two of those years.
In addition to her experience, Miller has an impressive educational resume. She holds a Master of Arts in Teaching in Elementary Education with a focus in Jewish Day Schools from Brandeis University. She has completed courses on teaching Hebrew at the Bishvil Ha’Ivrit Master Teacher institute at Hebrew College in Newton, Massachusetts, and trained at the Tal AM Hebrew instruction workshops in Orange, NJ. In addition to her studies in education, Rebekah has a Bachelor of Music from the Berklee College of Music, and a Master of Music degree from The Boston Conservatory in Opera Performance.
Miller will bring her past experience and training to Adath Israel, using them as she guides the religious school during these unprecedented times. “It’s a privilege and an enormous challenge to be an educator and a director during this time!” Miller said. “There is no playbook on how to impart Jewish values, Hebrew language, liturgy, and build a strong community (kehillah) successfully online. We are all pioneers outside of our comfort zone, and when I say “we”, I mean administrators, teachers, students, and parents as well.”
Despite the unknowns, Miller is ready to take on the challenge. “The key is to be creative and accept that there will be mistakes, or what I prefer to call learning experiences,” she said. “There are far more questions than answers (aren’t there always?), but my job is to provide support for my community, attempt to anticipate pitfalls, and solve problems as they arise. This is an opportunity for us as educators to become better – seek new modalities of instruction, modify and perhaps do away with some of our tried and true ways, even if it hurts just a bit.”
“Rebekah is a masterful teacher. She’s intelligent, thoughtful, easy going, and funny,” Rabbi Moshe Smolkin, Adath Israel’s Senior Rabbi, said. “Not only does she speak Hebrew fluently, but she embodies the best aspects of American and Israeli cultures. She is super excited to collaborate with our parents, teachers, and School Board to provide a fun and meaningful Jewish experience for our students. Rebekah will be a wonderful addition to our Cincinnati Jewish community.”
Adath Israel’s Jarson Education Center search committee spent time making sure they understood what each candidate could bring to the community. "I was impressed with how she showed respect for the strength of Adath Israel's existing religious school, while also bringing new innovative ideas grounded in her significant experience as a Jewish educator.” Elisa Abes, a member of the search committee, said. “She is eager to listen to current members to try to meet their diverse interests. Indeed, she has recently spoken in an open and inviting way with members about how to effectively educate students during the pandemic."
Adath Israel Congregation was looking for someone with innovative and exciting ideas. Andrea Baron, another member of the search committee is thankful to have found Miller. “We were looking for an individual with extensive educator experience, who could build great relationships with our staff and families, and make our wonderful religious school an even more inspiring learning experience for all. Rebekah possesses these qualities, and we are thrilled to welcome her as Adath Israel's new Director of Education and Youth & Family Programming,” Baron said.
There is no doubt that Miller will be an incredible asset to Adath Israel. "I and the entire Search Committee were so impressed with Rebekah’s professionalism, enthusiasm, and track record of success and we couldn't be happier that she is bringing her talents to Adath Israel,” Adath Israel’s Chief Operating Officer, Chris Hannon, said. “I look forward to working with her and seeing what she will accomplish in this exciting new role.”
Miller is settling in from her move from New York and starting her work for Adath Israel. “I am finding my Jewish community in Cincinnati to be incredibly supportive and kind. I am so very grateful to be here, and for my new community that has given me this incredible opportunity,” she said.
Adath Israel formally welcomed Rebekah Skirball Miller as the new Director of Education and Youth and Family Programs on July 20.