We are reviewing applications for our 2019-2020 cohort of Rabbinic Student Fellows!

Are you an entrepreneurial rabbinical or cantorial student interested in creating vibrant Jewish life? Are you looking for meaningful mentorship from clergy who serve small-town congregations and meaningful relationships with congregants? Would you like to spend seven extended weekends in beautiful Maine over the coming year? If so, please apply to be a 2019/20 Rabbinical or Messerschmidt Cantorial Fellow at the Center for Small Town Jewish Life!

Click Here for Application Materials

About the Rabbinic 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 rabbinic 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 rabbinic 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.


2018-2019 Rabbinic Student Fellows

Lily Solochek is a fourth year rabbinical student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Lily has a BA in Theatre and in Near Eastern & Judaic Studies from Brandeis University, and has an MA in Jewish Studies from JTS. Lily hopes to someday be congregational rabbi and work in a small town, cultivating communities deeply grounded in Jewish tradition and values that speak to the needs of today’s world. They have a deep love of midrash and niggunim (Jewish melodies), along with hiking, good coffee and feminist science fiction. Lily lives in NYC with their wife Lanni. 


Benjy Forester

Originally from the Chicago area, Benjy’s passion for Jewish community and education has taken him around the world and back again. After attending Jewish youth group, camp, and day school, Benjy took his strong Jewish background to WashU in St. Louis where he studied Pyschology-Neuroscience-Philosophy (PNP) and served as President of WashU Hillel. Benjy spent many years working at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin, primarily with the Tikvah program for campers with special needs. A Fellow on the inaugural year of the Nachshon Project, a selective program involving a semester spent in Jerusalem for college juniors interested in pursuing Jewish careers, Benjy was then accepted as a Nachshon Project Graduate School Fellow. After graduating college, Benjy spent a year as a JDC Jewish Service Corps Fellow in Budapest, Hungary where his work focused on teen programming and leadership development, and he then spent a year at the Hadar Institute in New York as a full-time Fellow in the Yeshiva. Now a first-year rabbinical student at JTS, Benjy looks forward to bringing his love for Jewish learning and community to his experiences in Waterville.