Rivka (Banner) Skaist, from Queens, NY, is studying for her Master’s degree in Jewish Philosophy at Revel. Rivka is one of those people fortunate to find deep meaning in their studies and be inspired by them. As an undergraduate at Queens College, she had planned to study speech therapy, but was so stimulated by her first English class that she changed her major to English. At Queens, Rivka also took literary theory and philosophy courses, writing a paper in her senior year on Nietzsche and the poetry of Wallace Stevens, and this sparked her desire to study Jewish philosophy at Revel. She is especially interested in the often complex inter-relation between Jewish and non-Jewish philosophy. About the course she is taking on Halakhah and Contemporary Legal Philosophy given by Professor Daniel Rynhold, she remarks: “It’s exciting to study halakhah from the modern legal-philosophical perspective that Professor Rynhold conveys so lucidly in his engaging lectures.”

Rivka still maintains her passion for English. Upon graduating from Queens College in 2011, Rivka enrolled in Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, earning her graduate degree in teaching English this past August. (That month, she married Shlomo Skaist of Richmond, Virginia.) This September she began teaching English literature and writing at Shalhevet High School in Woodmere, NY (where Shlomo teaches Torah she-be-al-peh). About her mission as a teacher, Rivka says: “…the students here at Shalhevet are innovative critical thinkers who do a wonderful job… exploring and responding to literature’s prompts. Together we analyze literary devices and textual nuances and study the ways their implications help us make better, more informed decisions. Shalhevet is a perfect fit because I love teaching English Language Arts to students who care about the choices they make and are sensitive to the world around them.”

At Revel, too, Rivka uses her English skills as a writer for the blog, website and print publications, covering Revel news, events and academic activities.


This article was written by Elianna Mitnick, a current Revel MA student


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