It was a graduation of a different sort when students of the Emet Outreach Leaders Fellowship celebrated their well-deserved completion of the program. Instead of family in the audience, there was the devoted team of Emet staff who felt emotional. Instead of donning caps and gowns, there were books of T’hilim that were held with pride. Instead of receiving a diploma marking a degree, there was a certificate of distinction to mark a dedication to Torah study.

“We held the graduation to recognize an amazing group of students who spent the last two to three semesters growing in Judaism,” said Rabbi Reuven Kigel, Campus Director. “While it was the end of their introductory fellowship, their relationship with Emet is not over, since they are ready to progress to ‘Level 2’ programming in our Men’s and Women’s Divisions.”

The deserving group are part of thousands of unaffiliated, Jewish college students who have participated in the Emet Leaders Fellowship over the past 15 years. The program is designed to provide an introduction to Judaism and their first Shabbos experience. This past semester, there were three fellowships that were run by Rabbi Kigel, Rabbi Mordechai Kraft, and Mrs. Hilla Kozuch. The Forest Hills Fellowship for students from multiple colleges took place on Monday evenings at Beth Gavriel Bukharian Congregation. This program attracted about 50 students who enjoyed an opening lecture and then small-group guided discussion by Emet educators. The St. John’s Fellowship was for students on campus on Thursday afternoons. Students from Baruch College participated on Thursday evenings via Zoom.

Over a sentimental dinner at Colbeh in Great Neck, students and staff shared words of inspiration. Many of the students spoke from the heart, and some thanked Emet for not only increasing their knowledge of Judaism, but also for changing their lives by introducing them to Shabbos and mitzvos.

“Everyone at Emet feels incredibly proud of these graduates, and we’re happy that we can continue our relationship with them at the next stage of their spiritual journey,” said Rabbi Akiva Rutenberg, Emet Co-Founder and Director. “While our programs start at the college level, we have more to offer students as they become young professionals and when they marry and have families. It’s only the beginning!”

Fellowship students from the upcoming spring semester will be eligible to join Emet this summer on a transformative trip to Poland and Prague.

“It’s bittersweet to watch these fellowship students graduate, since we’ve gotten to know them so well over Shabbos in our homes and learning together weekly,” Rabbi Kigel said. “Thankfully, it’s not quite goodbye since they are moving on to higher level learning at Emet. We’re ready to welcome the next group of freshmen and sophomores!”


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