Sivan Rahav Meir and the Synthesis of Spirituality and Professionalism
On the Yeshiva University website, the mission statement for Stern College states: “We bring wisdom to life by combining the finest, contemporary academic education with the timeless teachings of Torah. It is Yeshiva's unique dual curriculum, which teaches knowledge enlightened by values, that helps our students gain the wisdom to make their lives both a secular and spiritual success.” The emphasis on striving for concurrent religious and secular success is part and parcel to the Stern College and greater Yeshiva University experience, but it is difficult to transfer this concept from theory into actuality.
Spiritual and secular success is often portrayed as an ideal — get a degree, and make strides to foster spiritual growth and connection. However, the implementation of the ideal is never as simple or attainable as the ideal portrays it to be. We all register for a dual curriculum, take more classes than your average college student and dash from a political science course in one building to a Jewish philosophy class in another. For many, the fusion of both ideals exists on the schedule, but not in life. We see and support the importance of implementing Judaism into our academics, but how many of us actually develop tools to concretize this spirituality when we continue into our professions?
For this academic year, Yeshiva University, the Center for Israel Studies and the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought are welcoming Sivan Rahav Meir as the World Mizrachi Distinguished Visiting Lecturer. Sivan Rahav Meir is someone who has excelled and is continuing to excel in her various fields. She is a noted media personality and lecturer in Israel. She works for an Israel Television News Company, Channel 2 News, writes a column for Yediot Aharonot newspaper, and hosts a weekly radio show on Galei Zahal. She is a secular success by any account. But she does not just succeed secularly. Rahav Meir exemplifies a religious woman who is at the pinnacle of career prowess, but that prowess is rivaled by religious fervor and growth.
While her news broadcasts are watched broadly, her weekly Torah shiurim became wildly popular as well, with hundreds of people in attendance. Her Facebook page, where the shiurim are posted, has over 170,000 likes. She has a sefer on the parsha. Rahav Meir uses her career in journalism as a springboard for her illustrious career in Torah teaching.
For a student of Stern College, it is a tremendous privilege to have Rahav Meir visit for the year. It is incredible to see someone who takes the ideal and makes it practical and attainable. Often the balancing act is portrayed as an act: something difficult to maintain, and the true potential of both the secular and the spiritual are losing out. We’re taught to value the spiritual, but when it comes to joining the workforce and placing our career efforts, we see the secular taking the spotlight between the values. That’s not to say that spirituality is on the back burner. One can be focused on their spirituality and involved in their work — that is not a novel idea. But using the skills from one’s career and turning them into Hashem’s work with equal if not more passion is hard.
For Rahav Meir, journalism is her profession and passion. But instead of having them exist separately from her religious efforts, she uses those strengths to ennoble her religious efforts, creating her own unique brand of religious work. In Stern College, it is immensely beneficial to be surrounded and inspired by women like this. Women who make the idea of sanctifying the secular actual. Rahav Meir shines a light onto making the act actual, making both sides work in tandem, existing strongly separately, but being even stronger in unison.
Photo Caption: Rahav Meir exemplifies a religious woman who is at the pinnacle of career prowess, but that prowess is rivaled by religious fervor and growth.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons