There’s going to be another new face on the Rutgers campus this fall: Rabbi Heath Watenmaker, freshly ordained at the Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, will be heading Hillel’s new Reform Outreach Initiative.
“Over a thousand of our 6,000 students come from Reform backgrounds. But the Reform community on campus has not been as vibrant as we thought it should be. We’re looking to engage every student in a way that’s meaningful to them. We can’t afford to lose anyone,” said Andrew Getraer, executive director of Rutgers Hillel.
Until now, Rutgers had an Orthodox and a Conservative rabbi on staff.
“We spoke to Reform leaders across the state and they saw the need to create something.”
Watenmaker is “dyanmic and charismatic,” said Getraer. “Students were part of the search process, as well as community rabbis. We feel he’s going to have a very positive impact on the Jewish community here over the next few years.”