A native of Savannah, Georgia, Lisa Bodziner has lived in Baltimore for eight years. Before Baltimore, she attended the University of Wisconsin—Madison and then lived in Israel to study at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies where she received her master’s degree in Jewish Education. After teaching sixth through twelfth grade in California, Bodziner moved to Baltimore where she has worked at a number of venerable Jewish institutions including the Pearlstone Center and The Louise D. and Morton J. Macks Center for Jewish Education. Bodziner currently works at the executive director of Towson University Hillel.
What Jewish rituals and traditions mean the most to you?
Certainly the general concept of community. My husband and I, we come from different places but what we want to instill in our children is the value of community and taking care of everybody whether they’re mourning or just had a baby. I think our tradition does an incredible job of teaching each one of us that it really is incumbent upon us to not just take care of our immediate family but to lovingly and openly and warmly embrace all people. So the concept of kehillah (community) means a lot to us.
And Shabbat, just as an experience to unplug and be with family and friends and not be distracted by screens and technology, is sacred for us and our family and our community.
And I think that the concept of hakhnasat orchim just warmly welcoming guests. I serve as a lay leader at my shul and I really feel like my job is to make everyone feel at home.
How did you become a sofer?
I have always been kind of crafty and loved hands-on activities, I was a street vendor in college and sold jewelry and crafts, did metalsmithing. So I got to Israel and was learning, like 10 hours a day and I was kind of missing that creative element. A sofer came and said he was offering private classes for people to learn how to scribe the Hebrew alphabet. It was an incredible opportunity because you can get to learn about the characters of the alphabet and meditating on each Hebrew letter. I got really into it and then people started asking me to make pieces for them. And then I scribed ketubot, wedding documents, for married couples, I ended up scribing my own ketubah for our wedding. As an observant Jewish woman, I don’t scribe mezzuzot or Torah or tefillin, but it’s certainly still an incredible experience to be able to sit down and really meditate on the Hebrew alphabet, and have that creative connection with Judaism and the Hebrew letters. I did my best friends’ ketubot, and psalms or Eshel Chayil, woman of valor for other people. So it really satisfied that creative side of me and continues to.
Who or what inspires you?
That’s a good question. I think that I get inspiration from my previous teachers and role models and people that I really look up to. People that I see as righteous or tzadikim in this generation. I’ve been so blessed to have incredible educators that I really felt were holy people. My parents definitely inspire me. Our students inspire me, seeing that they’re just starting their journeys. My husband definitely inspires me to be a better person.
It had only been four months since Shachar Pinsky arrived on Towson University’s campus as its new Jewish Agency Israel Fellow.
Hoping to strengthen students’ connections to Israel, and working closely with the campus Hillel, he was beginning to see results. At times, he admits, it wasn’t easy. Many of the Jewish students he encountered were apathetic. In their world, filled with academics, sports, activities and friendships, Israel was just not that important. Yet, here he was in Israel, leading a group of Towson Hillel students on a Birthright trip over winter break. READ MORE >>
Program Director, Leora Match (left), Israel Fellow, Shachar Pinsky, Executive Director, Lisa Bodziner (right).
More than 150 people turned out in the rain May 5 to celebrate Towson University Hillel’s 21st birthday. Billed as “Cheers and Peers to 21 Years!” the event included food and drink; music by False Peak and Tall in the Saddle; a children’s area; and Jewish organization and information booths.
The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore’s Ruth Miller and Towson University president Dr. Kim Schatzel made an appearance.
“Overall it was a phenomenal day with a great turnout,” said Towson Hillel executive director Lisa Bodziner. “Despite the weather, people came out to have a good time, show their support and celebrate Towson Hillel turning 21!
I couldn’t have asked for more of a community event and it was super fun for the kids to get face paint and dance in the rain! There were young families, board members, students, parents and so many community partners and sponsors here that came out to say ‘ain’t no rain gonna come down on my parade,’ and you really could feel that warmth.”
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Iqra Zulfiqar, a Muslim freshman at Towson University, said she chose her school for the “vibe” — it felt welcoming. So when five members of a church in Pennsylvania arrived on campus last week bearing signs saying Muslims are destined for “hellfire,” Zulfiqar said seeing hundreds of students peacefully counterprotesting was heartening. “The response from students could not have been better,” said Zulfiqar, 18. “It was just pure unity.”
Students from the school’s Muslim community and other campus groups reaffirmed that unity Wednesday, less than a week later, with a rally hosted by the Muslim Student Association and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Last week’s protest, which began on campus and was moved to a public road, was met by hundreds of student counterprotesters who waved gay pride flags and chanted “love is love.”
It’s not every day that you turn 21. So for this milestone, Towson Hillel will celebrate its 21st with an outdoor family-friendly music festival and fund-raiser on May 5 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Tiger Plaza, 251 University Ave., on the campus.
The event will include family-oriented activities, tables from local organizations, live music from the bands Tall in the Saddle and False Peak, and a beer garden for those over the age of 21.
The gathering will also recognize new Hillel board members and graduating seniors. “Our seniors have an emotional connection to Hillel,” said Lisa Bodziner, executive director of Towson Hillel.
Towson University has entered into a long-term lease agreement at the former Maryland National Guard building in uptown Towson.
Towson University takes another step in President Kim Schatzel’s Together Towson initiative by utilizing a unique uptown Towson space to serve as the new “front door” to the university. In doing so, TU continues forward in its role as a major anchor institution and economic-driver in Great Baltimore.
The former Maryland National Guard Armory building will serve as the home for a number of programs and offices focused on community engagement and outreach, entrepreneurship, continuing education and workforce development. Following our anchor scan strategy and aligned with the BTU Presidential Priority, this vibrant and public-focused space will create new engagement opportunities for regional leaders to connect, convene, and collaborate alongside TU’s faculty, staff, and students.
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