Hana Bor’s dissertation for her Ph.D. in Jewish studies focused on the relationship between Israel and the United States.
For Bor, who grew up in Israel and served in the Israel Defense Forces before moving to the United States, her identity as an Israeli and an American has made up a big part of her life. In some ways, it still influences her work.
“The Israeli part of me wanted to push for Israel. The American part of me wanted to learn more and be part of the Jewish community and the community at large,” said Bor, 63. “I think it’s the same throughout everything I did professionally in America. I’m still doing it actually. I’m still teaching, I’m running the master’s degree, the leadership degree, and I’m taking students to Israel.”
Bor is a professor at Towson University, where she is the director of the leadership in Jewish education and communal service master’s degree program. She also leads study abroad trips to Israel, the first professor at Towson to do so.
In addition, Bor is currently organizing a symposium on teaching the Holocaust in the digital era, scheduled for February. She is also working with a team of Towson and Israeli professors on a book, which was recently accepted for publication.
Outside of work, Bor is involved in Beth El Congregation of Baltimore, where her husband, Eyal Bor, works as the director of Beth El Schools and the Rabbi Mark G. Loeb Center For Life Long Learning. She has four kids, four grandchildren and another grandchild on the way.
Bor grew up in Netanya, a city in central Israel. She got a bachelor’s degree in social work from Tel Aviv University and spent time working with delinquent girls. She then moved to the United States, where she worked in education, teaching at different schools, including Jewish ones. She obtained master’s degrees in education administration and Jewish studies from the American Jewish University in Los Angeles.
When she started taking Jewish studies courses at what was then the Baltimore Hebrew University, she was doing it mostly for fun, she said. But she wound up joining the program and eventually working there as an associate professor in the Jewish education program. She later helped start Baltimore Hebrew University’s Jewish communal service program.
In 2009, Baltimore Hebrew University merged with Towson University, becoming Towson’s Baltimore Hebrew Institute.
Several years after the merger, Bor, realizing that many of the Jewish organizations throughout Baltimore had leaders who had gone through Baltimore Hebrew University, decided to start the master’s program that she now directs.
“I noticed that there is a need to create leaders, not specifically for religious school or for day school, but focused on leadership, and we were thinking, ‘What do we want students with a master’s degree to have when they go out into the community and the Jewish community?’ We discovered that leadership is really what we need,” Bor said.
In the program, students learn to be caring, humanistic leaders, Bor said. They take courses in leadership, management and Jewish studies. They study managing budgets, critical thinking and different styles of leadership.
Graduates have gone on to work for the JCC of Greater Baltimore, Jewish Volunteer Connection, local synagogues and more. They have also gone on to work in Jewish communities outside of Baltimore, including in Israel. The students, Bor said, “really make a big difference.”
The Baltimore Jewish community is “lucky to have this program here in a public university,” Bor said. “This is very special, and there aren’t that many programs around the country that have a program like ours on a state campus.”