Social Justice Fellowship Legacies

Nomi Fein | Rabbi Richard J. Israel | Jay E. Orlin

Nomi Fein

The Nomi Fein Social Justice Fellowship was established by Nomi’s family after her sudden death, in 1996, at the age of 30. After receiving her BA from the University of Chicago she was awarded a doctoral fellowship by the National Institute of Mental Health and entered a Ph.D. program in Anthropology at Northwestern University. A year later, after receiving her MA, she interrupted her studies to spend what was planned as a year in Israel. There she tutored children in a deprived Jerusalem neighborhood, studied in an Ulpan, worked as an associate of a Hebrew University group exploring media education and met her husband-to-be, David Chodirker. She extended her stay for a second year, and after returning to the United States, where she and David were married, she received an MA in Media Education from Boston University. In 1994, she gave birth to Liat, who lives with her father, a family physician, in Newton, Massachusetts.

From the time Nomi was a young girl, she was deeply sensitive to injustice and committed to both g’milut chasadim, acts of loving kindness, and redifat tzedek, the pursuit of justice. She was a devoted Jew, culturally and religiously engaged, who understood her Jewishness and her concern for justice and peace as organically connected. She was, as well, an exemplary friend, investing great energy in her personal relationships.

The Nomi Fein Social Justice Fellowship seeks to honor her life and promote the values she held dear. It is an effort to ensure that her memory will, indeed, be a blessing.

Rabbi Richard J. Israel

The Richard J. Israel Memorial Fellowship was established by Dick’s friends after his death in July, 2000, to honor a man whose work and friendship were a blessing to so many people.

Dick received his undergraduate education at the University of Chicago and his ordination from Hebrew Union College. In 1957, while at HUC, he took a year to study in Israel — not yet a common practice in those days — and then served as the rabbi of the Bene Israel community in Bombay, India. For most of his career Dick worked in the world of Jewish college students. He served on campuses as Associate Director of Hillel at UCLA and then for twelve years as Director of the Yale Hillel Foundation. He came to Boston in 1971 to be the Executive Director of the Hillel Council of Metropolitan Boston, a position he held for fourteen years. Subsequently, he was the first Director of Judaica at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Boston and initiated the Campus Training Track at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. At the end of his career he served as interim or transitional director at a number of institutions, including the Bureau of Jewish Education of Rhode Island, the Alperin Solomon Schechter School of Providence, and Princeton Hillel; and he served Hillel as consultant to foundations in Western Canada and North Carolina. His final position was as interim chaplain at Brandeis University.

Dick’s personal interests were wide and eclectic; he was, for example, a beekeeper and marathon runner and loved to collect gadgets. He wrote the chapter on “Hachnasat Orchim” (hospitality) in the first Jewish Catalogue, and his home was always open to students, friends, and visitors. His book, The Kosher Pig, is a collection of essays on the intriguing challenges of living as a deeply committed Jew and a full participant in modern life. Dick was a magnet for both information and people, and an extensive network of friends and colleagues relied on him for answers, advice and good humor on many subjects. He moved comfortably within all of the Jewish religious movements, and was the point of intersection and communication between the Jewish congregations in which he participated. He took great pleasure in the success of others, and he relished making matches between people and professional opportunities. The Richard J. Israel Memorial Fellowship advances Dick’s social and Jewish values in Israel, in whose accomplishments and foibles he took a lively and loving interest all of his life.

Jay E. Orlin

Born in New York City, Jay studied at Columbia College and Harvard Law School, graduating in 1957 and 1960 respectively. After graduation he moved to Washington, D.C. where he was a lawyer with the Department of Justice Tax Division. Two years later he was offered a job at Goulston and Storrs, a Boston law firm where he remained until his death in 1993. In addition to his legal practice, he was actively involved in the Boston Jewish community. He was President of the Boston, Brighton, Newton Jewish Community Center, President of the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston and served in various executive capacities on the Board of the Beth Israel Hospital and well as that of Temple Emanuel, Newton.

Jay was most of all a lawyer, a lawyer in how he thought about a problem and in the integrity and commitment he brought to whatever he did. In the early 1980’s, he began to look for a different way to support Israel and ‘found’ the New Israel Fund. A few years later he went on a study tour and became even more committed to their work and vision for a democratic and Jewish state.