Going to graduate school as a middle-age woman doesn't even register as a problem on the Richter Scale for Jewish Theological Seminary cantorial student Ronit Wolff Hanan, 52. She lives in a New Jersey suburb and commutes to her classes. The perspective that older students contribute to the class dynamic is valued, she says. "We bring life experience to the table." Hanan, the daughter of a cantor, says she was probably always meant to enter spiritual service, but took a circuitous route to get there. She performed musically in the secular world, raised a family, lived abroad for eight years and kept a foot in the synagogue door through lay teaching. She would hire herself out for High Holy days for congregations in need of cantorial support.
She likely won't be competing with her younger classmates in the job-hunt that begins for her upon graduation because of her strong roots to her home in Teaneck and family ties. "I'm not someone who is going to move to Ohio for a job," she notes. Continuing doing what she's been doing -- but armed with the credentials of an advanced degree -- were justification enough for Hanan to go to theology school.
An article in Huffington Post by Ann Brenoff, Boomers Turn To Divinity Schools, reports on one of our talented students at JTS, and our neighbor in Teaneck, Ronit Hanan, who is completing her cantorial degree.