About the Rabbinical Student Fellows Program

The CSTJL rabbinical student fellowship program offers a unique twist on the classic small-town student pulpit. Each fellow works in a diverse and vibrant community large enough to support its own clergy but small enough to crave the energy and excitement for building Jewish life that rabbinical and cantorial students bring. Fellows receive intensive mentorship from a multi-denominational team of rabbis who have chosen to establish their careers in Maine’s small Jewish communities. They also learn about the distinctive dynamics of small-town Jewish life in sessions with scholars and communal professionals.

Over several visits across the year to a single congregation, fellows lead services, teach children and adults, and establish meaningful relationships with congregants. In addition, fellows offer programs in Jewish communities across the state, including at Maine’s colleges. These include programs related to a project with potential for lasting impact that the fellow selects and executes in consultation with local rabbinical mentors.

The insights and leadership strategies that fellows gain are relevant in Jewish communities of all sizes. Maine provides an especially valuable training ground for the next generation of American rabbis. Our state’s rabbis and lay leaders are master entrepreneurs, experts at finding ways to do more with less. They have much to teach our fellows about innovation, collaboration, and the socioeconomic realities of small Jewish communities. Because small-town congregations lack large support staffs, these fellows will develop practical rabbinical skills in everything from teaching and pastoral care to budget management and cooking. Fellows will also experience the many ways in which non-Jews play important roles in sustaining vibrant Jewish life in diverse communities.

Read more about the program and fellowship guidelines here.

Fellowship Guidelines

Meet Our 2020-21 Rabbinical Student Fellows


Madeline Cooper is a fourth-year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, studying in New York. She is also completing a master’s degree in Jewish Non-Profit Management from the Zelikow School at HUC-JIR, Los Angeles, and is a Wexner Fellow. Originally from Lexington, Mass., Madeline graduated from Dartmouth in 2016 with a major in History. She is  returning to the Center for Small Town Jewish life as a rabbinical fellow for a second year and is excited to become part of the Colby College Hillel community.





Sara Blumenthal is a fourth-year rabbinical student at Hebrew College in Boston, where she is also pursuing a master’s degree in Jewish Education. Prior to studying in Israel last year, Sara served as the rabbinic intern of The Boston Synagogue for two years, and completed a unit of CPE at Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, Mass. Originally from the Chicago area, Sara is excited to work with the Maine Jewish community as a rabbinical fellow.




Frankie Sandmel is a fourth-year rabbinical student at Hebrew College in Boston, and an educator and community organizer. Frankie spent last year interning with T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, and is currently a SVARA teaching fellow, where they are learning about curating radically accessible, authentic Jewish text study. Before starting rabbinical school, Frankie was program director at SVARA, and taught at innovative Jewish after-school programs across Chicago. Born in Portland, Frankie has spent summers in Maine’s Belgrade Lakes area. Frankie is excited to reconnect with their roots as they learn, pray, and build with the Center for Small Town Jewish Life.