by Senaya Savir
In January 2012, Devora Jaye chose to join the unique team at MEOR, a career choice she claims she didn’t anticipate, but couldn’t be happier about.
It all began when Jaye was volunteering for a youth group and Rabbi Koretzky called in search of a referral for a Birthright madricha.
“While we were on the trip, he [Koretzky] casually mentioned I should come ‘hang out on campus sometime,’ the rest is history,” Jaye said.
“It is hard to capture DJ and her impact in just a few sentences,” Rabbi Ari Koretzky said. “DJ is a walking whirlwind of activity, a trusted friend to countless students, a programming whiz, an organizational connoisseur, and so much more.”
Jaye, who is from Potomac, Maryland, said she grew up in a fairly traditional home and became increasingly observant over the years. While her official title at MEOR is associate director and director of student programs, she describes herself as the “all-purpose Jew.”
“I do everything from recruitment, marketing, communications, logistics, trips, teaching to admin and cooking for Shabbos,” Jaye said.
Jaye plays a key role in the major events that take place there including Shabbat on campus every week, a program called ‘Girls Night In,’ which explores different themes regarding women and Judaism, and hosting speakers which recently included an Orthodox sex therapist speaking about self-esteem and the college hook-up culture.
Jaye said when she is creating programs, “I look for cutting edge experiences that will provide educational, social and leadership opportunities in a warm, inclusive atmosphere.”
Sydney Levy, a junior communications major, describes Jaye as her mom when she’s at school. “DJ always makes sure I have somewhere to be for the holidays and that I’m happy,” she said.“If I ever need someone to talk to I know I can go to her.”
Jaye finds herself continuously inspired and impressed by the students’ curiosity and dedication to Judaism in the UMD. Jewish community.
At MEOR, Jaye says their goal is to create a vibrant Jewish community that is instilled with a deep and personal identity that inspires commitment to Jewish values, the Jewish community and support of Israel. “When a student asks me about MEOR, I tell them we are looking to create a culture of curiosity and give students a more intimate Jewish experience.”
Jaye also works as an event planner for weddings and bar mitzvahs, however, the highlights of her career include going on “amazing” trips to Israel and other places, and speaking to students one-on-one to see how she can best serve them.
“I love getting out and meeting students for coffee–the baristas in Stamp are a little afraid of me and how much coffee I drink,” Jaye said.
Faryn Scheck, a junior communications major, also expressed her appreciation for Jaye.
“She’s so warm hearted and has dedicated her life to spreading happiness throughout the school,” Scheck said.
Koretzky describes Jaye as “an indispensable part of our MEOR family and in the lives of so many students, current and past both.”
“I want students to feel like they are a part of a family, and that they have a place to go to explore their Jewish identity in a meaningful way,” Jaye said.