By Shira Kramer
Eli Creeger, 36, started working at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School as an assistant to the athletic department and is now the director of student life for the high school.
As a child, Creeger attended Yeshivat Rambam and then switched to Beth Tfiloh for high school. After graduating from high school in 2003, Creeger took a gap year in Israel and then attended IDC Herzliya for college.
Creeger and his wife Hayley Hoffman, along with their three children, belong to both Beth Tfiloh Congregation and Pikesville Jewish Congregation.
What did you do once you came back to Baltimore?
I was doing a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and then I started coaching basketball at Beth Tfiloh. I also worked on part-time stuff at BT like chaperoning at Shabbatons. So that stuff started building and building until Beth Tfiloh told me that it made sense for me to be there full time. That’s how I ended up back at BT. It was not my plan.
How did you end up as the director of student life?
While I acted as the assistant to the athletic department, Mrs. Levitt Klein [the former director of student life at Beth Tfiloh High School] took me under her wing and brought me into the student life department. She started teaching me about how she liked to run programming and how she wanted to change the culture of the school.
What is a student life director?
I help run all the extracurricular activities for the high school, between student government, clubs and committees, assemblies and trips. I run anything outside of the classroom that helps the student body build their culture and community.
What do you like about working with teens?
I love the energy that they bring to anything. No day is ever the same and no day is ever boring because the teenagers are so much fun. The students seem to love being here in the same way that I love being here. They appreciate what BT is and the second home that it can be. I love helping them experience all that BT can be.
How would you describe your relationship with Judaism?
I love being Jewish. I have always loved going to shul. I love Jewish holidays. I love singing. Sometimes I am a chazan at shul and I’ve been a gabbai. When I was growing up and we went to Suburban Orthodox, I participated in teen minyan. I love the spirituality and fun that comes along with Shabbat and holidays. I love the fun spiritual energy that we celebrate in Judaism. I really connect with that. My connection to Judaism has had some highs and lows over the years but I’m very happy with where I am now.
Do you feel like Beth Tfiloh aligns with your personal views on faith?
Yes. One of the things that I love most about Beth Tfiloh is the community approach. When I went here, I had friends with different connections to Judaism and different levels of observance. I think that, while it’s challenging sometimes to try and incorporate everybody under the same tent, it is so much more positive than negative. I send my kids there for school, and I love that my kids get to experience being friends with people that might be a little different than themselves. I feel the same sense of community and love at PJC as well.
What do you do for fun?
I used to have my own one-on-one basketball training business because I am also a coach here. I head coach the junior varsity boys’ team and assist with the varsity team. But I haven’t had much time for one-on-one training since the three kids. I do have a good group of close friends that I try to hang out with whenever I can. It is nice that a lot of the people that I am still friends with from high school have kids the same age so we get together, and our kids can play together. It is really special. Mostly, I like spending time with my family.