Mazel Tov! Saperstein Center Welcomes New Jewish Chaplain



Joining the Class of 2008 as new member of the Colgate community is Rabbi Garson Herzfeld, the new Interim Jewish Chaplain. Hertzfeld comes to Colgate with a history of working in a university setting, excellent qualifications and a positive outlook on the 2004-2005 academic year.”[Colgate] has a wonderful reputation as a great liberal arts school. I went to school in Upstate New York as an undergraduate, and this was an opportunity to get back into campus work: chaplaincy, possibly teaching, and working with students again.” Hertzfeld said. “It seemed like a neat opportunity to come up here and be part of what’s going on.”Hertzfeld has an extensive background in both education and religious enterprises. Previously, he was a part-time chaplain at Hobart and William Smith Colleges-his Alma Mater. In addition, he taught Hebrew at the University of South Florida and at the University of Tampa. Furthermore, Hertzfeld served as an adjunct instructor at Shenandoah University in Winchester Virginia, where he taught Introduction to Judaism.”I call myself the Renaissance Rabbi because I’ve been on and off of the pulpit, but I also have a background on campus.” Rabbi Herzfeld said. “I advise the Colgate Jewish Union and work with them to do all kinds of Jewish programming in terms of our Sabbath services, holidays, and bagel brunches. Obviously I’ll be involved in a lot of interfaith activities, and I’ll be overseeing the Saperstein Jewish Center.” The Saperstein Jewish Center, located on Oak Drive, houses a synagogue, library, lounge, study center and several classes. It is the center for Jewish activities on campus.Although he has a multitude of responsibilities, Herzfeld was confident that his new working environment would be to his liking. “It’s much different than working in a pulpit setting, in a congregational setting, because it’s much less formal, Hertzfeld said. “In many ways one can really be [himself]. For me, it’s a little more relaxing-in one level at least. My hope is that I can connect with a wide range of students, and have them enrich their experience by being involved in both things Jewish and things religious. The other component is bringing various ethnic and cultural groups together-not just for religious purposes.”A special committee was set up to find a candidate that was qualified and enthusiastic about the position of interim Jewish chaplain. The committee that selected Herzfeld included: Director of Academic Program Support Lynn Waldman, University Chaplain Nancy De Vries, various professors and a few students. “We interviewed a number of people who had applied for the position, [Herzfeld] was selected because he was a very fine and able candidate,” committee member and Harry Emerson Fosdick Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Jerry Balmuth said. “He is a gregarious person, and eager to be in contact with students, and has efficient experience so he can be helpful to them when they seek him out.”Co-President of the Colgate Jewish Union Jason Kaplan served as a student representative on the committee and had positive insight regarding Rabbi Herzfeld..”He is very easy to speak with, a great listener and one who has vast knowledge of life and life’s lessons. Rabbi Herzfeld will work closely with the Hindu Student Association and obviously with the Colgate Jewish Union,” Kaplan said. “He is a supporter of the vision to create the Colgate Chaplaincy into a mosaic of religious life, tolerance between all faiths and dialogue between us all for greater unity. I am confident that he will do a superb job in this one year interim position.” Rabbi Herzfeld may have only been here a week-he hasn’t even had time to set up his office-but he has already received a warm welcome from the community. “The students I’ve met have been wonderful, warm, outgoing, intelligent, and bright. People in the community, both the university community and the Village of Hamilton, have been extremely warm and gracious,” Hertzfeld said.