Alumni Spotlight: An interview with Emily Shaaya

"If you know Alef , teach Alef"

Tell us about your background:
I attended the University of CA, Irvine where I double-majored and received a B.A. in Spanish and Social Ecology. Thereafter, in 2012 I received my Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. I am a licensed attorney in Los Angeles specializing in criminal defense. From October 2014- July 2018, I served as a Deputy Public Defender for Los Angeles County, representing those in L.A's indigent community facing criminal charges.

How did you end up at Mayanot:
I attended Mayanot during the Summer session of 2018. While I was initially only supposed to drop in on classes for a few days, I loved the program and the people so much, that those few days turned into the entire five week summer program.

What do you feel you gained on the program:
Mayanot has strengthened my foundation of Jewish knowledge and increased my desire to continue to learn and grow and share the knowledge I've received.

After completing an undergraduate and graduate degree, as well as working for several years, in so many ways my time at Mayanot just tops everything. You're learning about life, you're learning about your soul, you're meeting incredible people, and that is worth the world. What a gift to receive guidance and direction before choosing a path. I am giving my personal guarantee that you will be so happy about your decision to take the time as an act of self-love.

What will you take away with you:
The education I received at Mayanot has provided me with life perspective and reinforced my ability to prioritize the things that are important to me. I saw firsthand what it means to teach Judaism with complete love. I witnessed true acts of chesed (kindness) both in and outside the classroom. 

My experience at Mayanot this summer gave me the courage to begin to bring back knowledge of what I've learned to my community in Los Angeles. I am planning to start teaching a class 1-2x a month starting next week. I hope I am blessed with the opportunity to return to Mayanot to continue my learning.