Hannah Grossman is the Assistant Director of Yachad, our signature K-12 Jewish and Hebrew Education program. Hannah is a passionate Jewish educator, and brings a wealth of experience to Yachad.
Assistant Director of Yachad
Photographed and Interviewed by Nate Jaffe, Communications Associate
“I think education is supposed to be lived, and I believe a successful education is one that drives people to make change in the world.” – Hannah
Nate: How long have you been working at CBE?
Hannah: This is my third year. I was a 5th grade teacher for two years and became Assistant Director this year.
Nate: Where were you/what were you doing before you came to work at CBE?
Hannah: I was exploring many different aspects of Jewish education, as a student and teacher. Before coming to CBE, I graduated from The Jewish Theological Seminary where I got a Master’s in Experiential Jewish Education and a Master’s in Bible. Earlier I spent a year at Pardes in Jerusalem studying more Jewish text, particularly Talmud. I also spent a year with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee as a Jewish Educator in Mumbai for a year, running their JCC programming.
Nate: Is there a movie, TV show, or book that had a big impact on you?
Hannah: I would say the Planet Earth series, and Al Gore’s documentaries. They have been really influential on how I view the natural world…and how I view our responsibility to care for it. I find it very humbling. They help me remember our place in the world and in the universe; how there’s something so much bigger than ourselves. The footage is so incredible- from the depths of the oceans to birds’ migrations. It’s so cool that we have the technology to see those details in nature. At one point, because of my interests in the natural world, I was studying marine sciences and thought that I would pursue a career in the field.
Nate: Describe a past experience, from any point in your life, that defined or impacted who you are today.
Hannah: When I was in 11th grade I had an excellent Torah teacher. I took his Tanakh class on freedom and responsibility. Through the class I became very driven to carry those lessons with me to better our world today. I started an anti-slavery club in my school and we fundraised and brought in speakers to the school. I remember how empowered the experience made me feel and how important the work was. My teacher totally supported me, helping me go through the school’s bureaucracy to create assemblies and learn about fundraising. It was one of the first times that I took my learning and translated it into real change making in the world. I think that experience really influenced how I view education in general. I think it’s supposed to be lived, and I believe a successful education is one that drives people to make change in the world- to inspire people to do something meaningful to them with what they’re learning.
Nate: What motivates you?
Hannah: The idea of bringing a new insight into somebody’s life and helping them see a new way of being in the world. I think that’s a lot of what education is. I’m very motivated in my work to create those doors for people to continue exploring on their own.
Nate: Where is the most interesting place you’ve visited?
Hannah: I was in Croatia this past summer. There’s so much beauty in the country, but there was a terrible war that happened in the region not that long ago, and it was really interesting to see different groups that had been so at odds with each other so recently now living together side by side. That was the most interesting dynamic to see and I’m really interested to keep learning about how it became possible.
Nate: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Hannah: Be true to yourself.
Nate: What in your life are you most proud of?
Hannah: Growing up, as a kid, I was really shy. I wouldn’t really speak up in class or in front of groups, and something in high school kind of clicked and I began to put myself out there more. I started to put myself into areas of discomfort because I wanted to be sharing my voice more. I think putting myself into social situations that were uncomfortable ultimately made me more comfortable. I now see myself as a more outgoing person and I’ve had great exchanges that I might not have had otherwise!
Nate: What do you like to do when you have time off?
Hannah: This year I started going to Improv classes at the People’s Improv Theatre. I also swim here at CBE in the afternoons. I love painting, too. And ping pong!
Register for Yachad 2019-20
Teachers like Hannah are what make Yachad extraordinary. We hope to see you in the fall!