About the Rabbinical Student Fellows Program

The CSTJL 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 2019-2020 Rabbinical Student Fellows

Madeline Cooper is a third year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. She is also completing a Master of Arts in Jewish Non-Profit Management from the Zelikow School at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles and is a Wexner Graduate Fellow. Originally from Lexington, Mass., Madeline attended Gann Academy in Waltham, Mass., and graduated from Dartmouth College. Before matriculating at HUC-JIR, she served as Director of Education at the Upper Valley Jewish Community in Hanover, N.H.. Born and raised in New England, Madeline is excited to spend the year working with Temple Beth El in Augusta and the Center for Small Town Jewish Life in beautiful Maine.


Rachel Putterman is in her last year of Rabbinical School at Hebrew College. For the past two years, Rachel was the Director of Boston College Hillel. She has spent her recent summers at the Hadassah Brandeis Institute mentoring undergraduate and graduate student interns on their projects related to gender and Judaism. Rachel is also the Creator and Director of All Genders Wrap, a series of tutorial videos featuring a diverse cast demonstrating how to wrap tefillin. In her prior career as a public interest attorney, Rachel represented domestic violence survivors in their family law cases. Rachel is excited to spend time in Maine this year and be involved in thriving Jewish small town life!


Max Edwards is a fourth-year rabbinical student at Hebrew College in Newton, Mass. Max currently lives in Cambridge, Mass., and splits his time between school, internships, teaching local Yiddish classes, and constant attempts at becoming a mediocre basketball player. This past summer Max finished up his second unit of chaplaincy training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. A small-town transplant from the only county in Minnesota without a natural lake, Max is thrilled to be up in Maine in familiar surroundings as a fellow at the CSTJL!