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Ezra Saville
Ezra Saville

 

Ezra believes in accessible education

 

Born in Alabama, Ezra grew up in the U.S. Virgin Islands and went to high school in a small town in Idaho. Although neither of his parents attended college, his mother always told him from a young age that he was college bound. When Ezra began college at the University of Idaho in 2018, he was already interested in becoming a rabbi, but the university did not have  a Judaic Studies program. Instead, Ezraenrolled as a sociology major. After he and his parents moved to Portland, he learned about PSU’s Judaic Studies program and the Harold Schnitzer Family Scholarship. His mother encouraged him to apply and he was awarded the scholarship. Ezra started at PSU in fall 2019 as a transfer student, a Judaic Studies major, and a proud scholarship recipient.

Ezra is passionate about making education accessible. He works as a para-educator at Congregation Neveh Shalom supporting people who struggle with learning obstacles. As moderator of an online community of LGBT Jews and students interested in converting to Judaism, Ezra hears stories of how people encounter obstacles to learning. These obstacles may be architectural -- as in, for example, a missing wheelchair ramp at a building entrance -- or financial, such as course fees that a student cannot afford to pay. Other, more nuanced obstacles involve traditional gender roles and assumptions about who will perform which actions in observing Jewish holiday rituals. He says, “I don’t like to be fit in boxes when it comes to Jewish observance or Jewish lifestyle. I think there’s a lot of beauty in all the different ways people practice Judaism.”  

After earning his BA at PSU he aspires to go to the nondenominational rabbinical school at Hebrew College in Boston. Ezra states:  “I’m interested in opening up new pathways within the field of adult education.”  Ezra wants to couple the traditional with the innovative and make Jewish learning accessible to all.

 

Read more Judaic Studies student profiles at https://www.pdx.edu/judaic/student-stories