It is with great pleasure that we announce that Rabbi Michelle Dardashti will be the next Associate Chaplain of the University for the Jewish Community at Brown and Rabbi of Brown RISD Hillel. Michelle distinguished herself from a crowded field of applicants through her ability to compellingly translate Judaism for the modern day and through her relationship-based approach to building community. Michelle is an inspiring rabbinic leader and teacher with a passion for engaging students in Jewish life; she looks forward to making Judaism relevant for students, faculty, and alumni of Brown and the Rhode Island School of Design and joining them on their respective Jewish journeys. Daughter of an Iranian hazzan (cantor) and American folk-singer of Eastern-European descent, and married to an Australian Jew, Michelle brings to the role a deep understanding of global Jewry, Jewish music, practice and culture, and a commitment to fostering pluralistic communities. She will start this summer prior to the start of the 2013-2014 school year.
Rabbi Dardashti was ordained and received a Masters in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). She currently serves as Director of Community Engagement at Temple Beth El in Stamford, Connecticut, a position in which she has worked specifically to cultivate those at the fringes of community (potentially just entering or just exiting) - such as young families, teens, and young professionals - through a grassroots model of engagement. Prior to this role, Michelle was the Marshall T. Meyer Rabbinic Fellow at Congregation B'nai Jeshurun in Manhattan for two years, where she taught, oversaw a conversion program, and had the privilege of speaking and leading prayer within one of the country's most vibrant congregations.
Before JTS, Michelle lived in Uruguay - teaching at a Jewish day school, running Hillel programs, and writing for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency - and in Israel, first on a Dorot Fellowship and later, working for the Nesiya Institute. During her rabbinical schools years in Manhattan, Michelle served as Director of Family Programming at Shaare Zedek, educator for Interfaith Community, chaplain at Bellevue Hospital, and rabbi and cantor for JTS's free, walk-in High Holy Day services. She was also trained in Congregation-Based Community Organizing through Jewish Funds for Justice and traveled to El Salvador as part of an American Jewish World Service Rabbinical Student Delegation.
Michelle looks forward to moving to Providence this summer with her husband, Nathan Sher, and daughters, Eden and Miya.