By Phillip Nagler, Opinion Editor
When I sat down to interview Bella Adler, it was not my first time meeting her. On YU’s Thailand winter break mission last year, Bella made it a priority to introduce herself to everyone, including myself. My first impression of her was that she was magnetic, genuine, and friendly. It was no surprise to me that a few months later she was elected president of the Torah Activities Council (TAC).
“I love community — it’s a bit of a cliche buzzword, but I really like it. Community is a way for people to meet people who are different than them, which is incredibly valuable.”
Bella grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, which is where she developed her passion for tight-knit communities. Her fondness and appreciation for her hometown earned her the nickname “St. Louis,” when she was in seminary at Midreshet Torah V’avodah (MTVA). After growing up in a small town, Bella wanted to become part of a larger community, which led her to YU.
When she first came to YU, Bella became heavily involved on campus. “In my first year, I signed up for any club that I could, aside from anything medical, because I’m scared of blood.” In addition to being a member of clubs such as YUPAC and Project Sunshine, Bella was a student athlete on the tennis team for three seasons. Her involvement caught the attention of Talia Molotsky, a former OSL director, who sat down with Bella one day for lunch and encouraged her to run for student government. Bella was hesitant, as she is generally opposed to competition. However, upon further thought, Bella decided to run for VP of Shabbat programming on TAC. She already stayed in for most Shabbatot. “Shabbat is one of those times people come together and build community — normally we’re running around from class to class all stressed.”
After working as TAC’s VP of Shabbat programming, Bella decided to further her involvement with TAC by running for president — and winning.“I don’t take it for granted that I get to be in student government, it’s really a privilege for me.” The transition from vice president to president was a challenge, but at the same time, extremely rewarding. The highlight for her thus far as president has been working with the TAC board, an “unbelievable team that is a bonded cohort and inspired to make the Jewish community better.”
As the president of TAC, one of Bella’s main goals is to create programming for the full and diverse spectrum of Jewish YU students. Her passion for chesed and sports are what drove her to spearhead “Sweat for Tzedakah,” one of TAC’s most successful events, which raised over $750 in charity. This semester, in order to engage with more students from all types of backgrounds, TAC will be having multiple tabling events. Tabling allows hundreds of students to be involved, as opposed to a few students who might attend an event. One of these past events was called “Flowers for Shabbat,” where students prepared bouquets of flowers for sick patients in hospitals.
Outside of TAC, Bella is one of the handful of students majoring in Jewish education. She has just begun her student teaching this semester at Beit Rabban, a Jewish day school in the Upper West Side. “I have a lot of life interests, particularly art, innovation, and engineering. I’m particularly interested in how those fit into a Jewish classroom and community.” Bella further told me that one of her main inspirations for becoming a teacher is giving people the skills to think for themselves, which is a necessary tool in grappling with Jewish thought.
Something Bella herself grapples with regularly is the role of women in the Jewish community, and especially in Jewish education. This topic, Bella told me, is something that she thinks about a lot — she even gave a shiur on women’s learning back in her hometown shul over winter break. Bottom line? “If we want Jewish women to be invested in going into Jewish education, then we have to be providing models and opportunities for Jewish female educators.”