By Alex Pacinda
For the Mitzpeh
Rabbi Elie Schwartz and his wife, Miriam, will arrive at Maryland Hillel this August to serve as the new Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus couple, but they won’t be alone – baby Schwartz No. 1 will be with them, too.
After news that one of the JLIC couples, Alex and Ahuva Tsykin, would be leaving at the end of the semester, Maryland Hillel searched for a new couple for the Fall 2017 semester.
“After the Tsykins notified us that they were going to be leaving after their year with us, we knew we needed someone who could be an asset to the community,” Hillel Assistant Director Maiya Chard-Yaron said. “With their experience and their visits to Maryland, we knew that the Schwartzes were the perfect fit.”
The Schwartzes seem to feel the same way about joining the Maryland Hillel family.
“When we were approached this past winter about coming back to the JLIC family, the University of Maryland was presented as an option,” Miriam said. “We visited campus twice, first for the day and then for Shabbos, and we were blown away by the school pride, positive energy, thirst for growth and intellectual curiosity of the students.”
The Schwartzes had their first experience as a JLIC couple when they were newly married and living in New York.
“We had the opportunity and privilege to serve as the Orthodox Union-JLIC Fellows at Queens College,” Miriam said. “It was a really positive experience, so when we moved to Chicago, we kept OU-JLIC in the back of our minds as a strong career possibility for the future.”
The couple met while attending Yeshiva University. Elie studied philosophy and Miriam studied Jewish education as a fellow of the Legacy Heritage Jewish Educator’s Project.
“When we were in college, we were both advisors on a Shabbaton for New York NCSY,” Miriam said. “I saw Elie talking to my brother and went over to introduce myself. The rest is history.”
Elie, originally from Cleveland, continued his studies to receive rabbinic ordination and his master’s in medieval Jewish history.
“Currently we’re living in Chicago, because I’m a fellow of the Yeshiva University Torah Mitzion Kollel,” Elie said. “With this, I have the privilege to create both formal and informal educational opportunities for community members of all ages.”
Miriam is taking her last class towards a master’s degree in Jewish education at the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration. She currently works as a high school Judaic studies teacher and served as the co-director of student activities at the Ida Crown Jewish Academy.
The Schwartzes said they are excited to become a part of the Maryland Jewish community and join the other JLIC couple, the Hirschhorns.
“We are looking forward to working together with them [the Hirschhorn’s] and the student leadership to continue growing the already impressive social and spiritual opportunities that exist here,” Miriam said. “Along with creating a home away from home, where all students can feel welcome and comfortable.”
If you ever find yourself looking for Elie in the fall, Miriam knows where to find him.
“He loves basketball and is looking forward to getting to meet students both at Hillel and on the court,” Miriam said.
For the students who helped Hillel choose the Schwartzes, it seems this was part of the decision.
“When I got to meet the Schwartzes, I was immediately impressed with their relationship and all that they have been able to accomplish together,” Aaron Yitzhaky, a junior marketing major, said. “I’m really excited to come back in the fall and challenge Elie to a basketball game.”
Both are ready to start this new adventure in College Park, especially with the arrival of their first child in July.
“We love how the students take such ownership of, and pride in, the Jewish community on campus,” Miriam said. “We are so excited to meet all the students at Maryland in the fall.”