Andrea Siegel sees herself as a translator – for reasons beyond her doctorate in Hebrew literature.
“Different Jews have different ways of connecting to our traditions and civilization,” says Siegel, who started in July as Chapman University’s first full-time director of Jewish Life. “Part of my role is to help them translate for each other.”
Siegel brings a background in academia, nonprofit work and counseling to Chapman, where Hillel and Chabad student groups are active and 8% of undergraduates identify as Jewish.
Prior to her role at Chapman University, Siegel was a clinical resident in spirituality and psychotherapy at a mental health center for underserved people in Appalachia, and she worked on interfaith orphan care issues in West Africa. Before that, she directed Jewish global citizenship education strategy for young adults at the Jewish humanitarian organization JDC, and she taught Jewish studies at multiple universities.
A major reason Siegel came to Chapman University is to help the university nurture its connections with Southern California’s Jewish resources. She also sees Chapman’s Fish Interfaith Center as an exceptional source of connection. The Fish Interfaith Center is home for religious and spiritual life at Chapman University, providing a sacred space for individuals as they shape their spiritual journey.
“There are only a handful of universities in the country that have an interfaith space like this,” she says.
With the Fish Interfaith Center as a hub of outreach, Siegel wants to expand “welcoming spaces” on campus.
“Jewish identities are so diverse, like whom you love and how you practice or observe. There are so many opportunities to get involved with and create Jewish responses to needs – where everyone is welcome to join regardless of your identity,” Siegel says.
Siegel notes that it’s up to each new generation to find and amplify voices from the Jewish tradition.
“That’s why it’s really important to me, whether I’m talking with students, faculty, staff, alumni or visitors, to say, ‘Let’s bring in your voice and let’s find what can resonate,’” she says.
About Chapman University
Founded in 1861, Chapman University is a nationally ranked private university located in Southern California. Chapman is categorized by the Carnegie Classification as an R2 “high research activity” institution and offers personalized education to more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The campus has produced a Rhodes Scholar, been named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars, and hosts a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honor society. Based in the city of Orange, Chapman also includes the Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus in Irvine. In 2019, the university opened its 11th college, Fowler School of Engineering, in its newest facility, Keck Center for Science and Engineering. Learn more about Chapman University: www.chapman.edu.
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