Georgetown hires new Jewish chaplaincy director

Yesterday afternoon, Phil Boroughs, S.J., vice president for mission and ministry, and Kevin O’Brien, S.J., executive director of campus ministry, announced that the University has hired Rabbi Rachel Gartner after an extensive yearlong search.

Gartner will replace Rabbi Bruce Aft who has served as the interim director following the retirement of longtime chaplaincy director Rabbi Harold White.

Gartner currently serves as director of the Hillel at Miami University in Ohio.

According to O’Brien, one of the deciding factors in the decision to hire her was her demonstrated commitment to interreligious dialogue.

“I want to fan the spark of Jewish life in students, faculty, and staff where it currently exists,” Gartner told Vox in an interview.

Gartner, who is trained in the Reconstructionist movement of Judaism, said that when she visited campus she was moved by the real commitment of students from different Jewish backgrounds to each other.

She said that she fully understands that some students may not be connect with her as well because she is a female rabbi, but she does not believe that will negatively affect the community on campus.

Gartner said that she plans to actively support students already participating in groups such as the Jewish Student Association, but she will also go on a listening tour of her own to seek out Jewish students who are not as active and find out their faith stories.

“The heart and soul of what I do is to be with students,” she said. “I’m really excited to get to meet the students.”

Image courtesy Georgetown University Office of Communications

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