Teen dedicates life to Judaism, becoming rabbi

Noa Hahn at the Kotel in Jerusalem.

BY ANYA TULLMAN

Teenagers are constantly overwhelmed with pressure to excel in academics, sports and extracurricular activities. This leaves almost no time to think about a post-college future. However, Ladue Horton Watkins High School junior Noa Hahn has decided to center her future around one of the most important aspects of her life: Judaism. She aspires to be a rabbi. 

What follows is a Q&A with Noa, explaining her decision and reasoning.

What are your plans directly after graduating high school?

I’m looking at a gap-year program in Israel where I would spend the first semester studying Jewish texts and philosophy and I would spend the second semester working. I’ll be learning some Hebrew and working with communities there. After that, I want to study at Tel Aviv University. They have a three-year international program for liberal arts, so they have a lot of major options.

ADVERTISEMENT


What do you plan to do with the knowledge gained in Israel?

BBYO has a program where your first year out of college you can apply to be a director and they send you to a new BBYO community in a different country. When I was at International Convention, I met BBYO directors who were American but they were working in Ukraine or Turkey or Russia. There are new BBYO chapters in different countries every day, so I’m excited to see where it takes me. 

Why do you want to be a rabbi?

After my bat mitzvah, I realized that I really enjoyed Jewish learning and I want to help other people, especially kids, learn to enjoy learning about Judaism. When I was younger, I didn’t really like going to Sunday school or learning about holidays, but I learned that it can actually be really interesting, and I want to share that with other people.  

What qualities do you possess that could make you a strong rabbi?

I’m definitely a natural leader, and I’m not afraid to take initiative. Also, I’m not afraid of speaking in front of other people, which is definitely really important if I’m going to be on a bimah giving sermons or working at the head of a Jewish school. 

What activities do you participate in to help prepare yourself for the future?

I take guitar and ukulele. I really like to go to NCSY, an Orthodox youth group, because we do a lot of learning. I get to learn about holidays that might not be as mainstream and that most people don’t really know about, and also different ways to be Jewish. I go to NFTY to song lead, and I work at Shaare Emeth as a music teacher. Once a week, I go and I help Cantor Seth (Warner) with bar and bat mitzvah training. So, I’m doing a lot of Jewish things to help set me up for the future.  

Why do you feel so passionately about Judaism?

That’s something that, as I learn and grow as a Jewish young adult, I need to think about. I really like how there are so many ways to be Jewish and how you can choose a way to practice that is meaningful to you.