A native of Savannah, Georgia, Lisa Bodziner has lived in Baltimore for eight years. Before Baltimore, she attended the University of Wisconsin—Madison and then lived in Israel to study at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies where she received her master’s degree in Jewish Education. After teaching sixth through twelfth grade in California, Bodziner moved to Baltimore where she has worked at a number of venerable Jewish institutions including the Pearlstone Center and The Louise D. and Morton J. Macks Center for Jewish Education. Bodziner currently works at the executive director of Towson University Hillel.
What Jewish rituals and traditions mean the most to you?
Certainly the general concept of community. My husband and I, we come from different places but what we want to instill in our children is the value of community and taking care of everybody whether they’re mourning or just had a baby. I think our tradition does an incredible job of teaching each one of us that it really is incumbent upon us to not just take care of our immediate family but to lovingly and openly and warmly embrace all people. So the concept of kehillah (community) means a lot to us.
And Shabbat, just as an experience to unplug and be with family and friends and not be distracted by screens and technology, is sacred for us and our family and our community.
And I think that the concept of hakhnasat orchim just warmly welcoming guests. I serve as a lay leader at my shul and I really feel like my job is to make everyone feel at home.
How did you become a sofer?
I have always been kind of crafty and loved hands-on activities, I was a street vendor in college and sold jewelry and crafts, did metalsmithing. So I got to Israel and was learning, like 10 hours a day and I was kind of missing that creative element. A sofer came and said he was offering private classes for people to learn how to scribe the Hebrew alphabet. It was an incredible opportunity because you can get to learn about the characters of the alphabet and meditating on each Hebrew letter. I got really into it and then people started asking me to make pieces for them. And then I scribed ketubot, wedding documents, for married couples, I ended up scribing my own ketubah for our wedding. As an observant Jewish woman, I don’t scribe mezzuzot or Torah or tefillin, but it’s certainly still an incredible experience to be able to sit down and really meditate on the Hebrew alphabet, and have that creative connection with Judaism and the Hebrew letters. I did my best friends’ ketubot, and psalms or Eshel Chayil, woman of valor for other people. So it really satisfied that creative side of me and continues to.
Who or what inspires you?
That’s a good question. I think that I get inspiration from my previous teachers and role models and people that I really look up to. People that I see as righteous or tzadikim in this generation. I’ve been so blessed to have incredible educators that I really felt were holy people. My parents definitely inspire me. Our students inspire me, seeing that they’re just starting their journeys. My husband definitely inspires me to be a better person.
What have you learned recently that has stuck with you?
I’ve learned that life is just so incredibly short. I’m watching my son becoming this little man and my daughter is growing so quickly that, we really feel it’s important that the regular moments are really the precious ones. That the bedtime routine is really a gift or all playing on the bed together, sacred time. It goes by so quickly, the kind of mundane, and what we see as sometimes the grind, I’ve really learned to appreciate life’s precious little moments.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to host, I really do love to have everyone in my house. I love to cook. I love to craft, and I do love to shop.