Rabbi Schindler is Charlotte’s first female Rabbi. Before coming to Queens she was the head Rabbi of Temple Beth El, a Reform branch of Judaism. She is an associate professor of Jewish Studies at Queens and is the Director of the Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice. The goal of the Stan Greenspon center is, “appreciating differences, embracing inclusion, and working for justice,” a tagline created by Rabbi Schindler.
Rabbi Schindler said she left Temple Beth El because she didn’t have enough time to study as her job required she take care of numerous people and constantly kept her on her feet or in the temple. She made the decision that she would leave Temple Beth El at the age of 50 so she could start a new chapter in her life and continue to study in the ways she wanted.
“I’m really happy here because I get to study, and write and teach, and be inspired by these amazing students,” Rabbi Schindler said. “But I also get to be really connected with the Charlotte community and bring students into the community and bring the community into Queens.”
Rabbi Schindler can be found in her office surrounded by light and books, making the office feel at home. The multiple degrees she’s earned are hung proudly on the wall and though the office may not be the largest, it certainly feels very roomy.
Rabbi Schindler is working towards a diversity center that is more inclusive. She hopes that all diversity groups will be a part of the center. Right now the center is base to the Hillel group, the Jewish life on campus and LEAD, a support program for first generation students. The Diversity Inclusion and Community Engagement (DICE) lounge is for every student and she would like to see more presence from the groups.
“Our goal is to get Queens students out in the community and to make a difference,” said Rabbi Schindler.
“Being Jewish is my difference,” she said. “That makes me who I am. It’s an important part of my identity.”
The Stan Greenspon Center is responsible for four areas; Jewish Life, Jewish Studies, Holocaust and Human Rights education and Social Justice. Each year there is an initiative where the center chooses a topic and educates and advocates for it. This year the topic is refugees and an eight-week program is in place to teach the students and community about the issues and how to advocate for change.
Talli Dippold, assistant director of the Stan Greenspon Center, is responsible for two of the branches, Jewish life and Holocaust and human rights education. Rabbi Schindler is her boss, her colleague and for a long time her Rabbi. Dippold speaks highly of Rabbi Schindler and says that she is a great influence at Queens who is creating more understanding about issues on campus and in the city.
“Rabbi Judy is a connector of people,” Dippold said. “She’s a connector of communities.”
“The problems of our society are really overwhelming,” Rabbi Schindler stated. “What’s great about Queens is that, while we may not be able to solve things globally, or even nationally, we can transform where we are.”
Rabbi Schindler speaks excitedly when talking about Queens students and the Stan Greenspon Center’s future. The center was opened during August of this year and has made some progress but still has room to grow and a larger audience to affect.
“I think she can make a great impact on this campus,” Simon Hirschhorn, president of Hillel and student at Queens said. “And I think she’s starting to.”
“Queens students are our future, and what an awesome honor to be able to be a part of their lives at this point in their journey,” Rabbi Schindler stated with a huge smile on her face.
Rabbi Schindler hopes the Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice will be part of the growth of Queens and that it may enable the Queens community to embrace differences and inclusion and also work towards social justice. She hopes the center will be able to work with the community to truly be able to make a difference on campus and in the city.
Rabbi Schindler is proud of the dynamic students here at Queens. She seemed ecstatic at the reception the students have had at the refugee panels and was impressed with the participation of the students and what they’ve added to the program.
“She’s a force to be reckoned with,” Dippold describes Rabbi Schindler. “She is one of the hardest working, most dedicated individuals that I know.”