Campus rabbi to step down at end of Spring Quarter

Jillian Sandler

Rabbi Josh Feigelson announced Sunday that he will be stepping down from his post as Northwestern’s campus rabbi and senior director for educational initiatives at the end of this academic year.

Feigelson, who has worked with NU Fiedler Hillel since 2005, will take a new position as educational director of Facing Change Network, an internship program started by Hillel that has spread to 12 universities nationwide. The purposeof Facing Change, according to its Facebook page, is to promote conversations between students of different faiths and cultures in order to better college campuses.

“It was something I really believe in and something I really want to pursue, so that was ultimately my decision,” Feigelson said of his new position.

Though Feigelson will still dedicate time to Hillel in his new role, Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein of the Tannenbaum Chabad House said his absence will be felt.

“He’s brought a lot of fresh ideas and perspective to how he works and deals with religious life. Obviously that will be missed,” Klein said.

Klein said Feigelson’s six years of service to Hillel will leave a void in the organization.

“His gain is our loss,” he said. “Multiple rabbis look at their job as a stepping stone to something bigger.”

Hillel has not yet found a replacement for Feigelson, but Klein said he is confident the new rabbi will be up to the task.

“There will be the upperclassmen who will feel very saddened that (Feigelson’s) gone but the freshmen will get somebody new,” Klein said. “That’s what’s beautiful about being on a campus; it’s a very transient community. It’ll be a whole new flavor and a whole new personality and I’m very confident that Hillel will find someone to replace him.”

Though Feigelson will no longer be acting as rabbi, he will still be on campus finishing his doctorate, something he said “is really hard to do when you’re the rabbi on campus.”

He said he plans to temporarily reassume his role as rabbi during the Jewish high holidays in the fall and stay involved with NU.

“I very much hope to continue to be part of campus life,” he said.

Medill sophomore Stefanie Groner, the chairwoman of Hillel’s ritual life committee, said Feigelson has made structural improvements to grow student involvement in Hillel. She said when he began his term, usually about 25 students would be present at a Friday night dinner, while now the group usually expects 80.

“He’s done a remarkable job of growing the community,” she said.

Stephanie Kahn, who serves on the ritual life committee and is a leader of its Reform minion, said she is sorry he’s leaving, but looks forward to his progress in his new position.

“Rabbi Josh has been a great spiritual and educational consultant,” the Weinberg freshman said. “I’m sad to see him go because he’s been such a great person to work with.”

Feigelson said he values the time he has had to serve as the rabbi for NU’s Jewish community.

“I think the opportunity to be a mentor and a guide to many, many students in the Jewish community and more broadly in the University has been a tremendous privilege and has taught me a great deal about myself, about people, about what it means to be a rabbi and a teacher,” he said. “This experience has given me a vision for higher education and given me new ways to think about what I think higher education can do and what we need to do to strengthen that and make it better.”

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