Rabbi Jordan Braunig leaves Tufts Hillel for Emory

Goddard Chapel is pictured on Aug. 28. Nicole Garay / The Tufts Daily

Rabbi Jordan Braunig will be departing Tufts Hillel in the fall to assume the role of Jewish chaplain at Emory University. Braunig served as the director of the Initiative for Innovative Community Building at Tufts Hillel. 

During his tenure at the university, the Community Building Fellows program remained a central focus of Braunig’s work. According to the University Chaplaincy’s website, the purpose of the program is to decentralize Jewish life on campus by connecting fellows with other students.

Braunig underlined that the program is intended to support students and their communities.

“The real goal of the program is to empower students to organize Jewish life for themselves and for their communities,” Braunig said. 

He recognized that the Community Building Fellows initiative helps hone its members’ skills as listeners and strengthens students’ ability to spread their values into the different communities they are involved in on and off campus.

One of the sweet things about Tufts is there are lots of overlapping circles of communities, and sometimes the best way to encourage people to grapple with their Jewish identity is to bring those conversations and those events into their circles of friends,” he said. 

Jake Gould, a junior who previously served as a community-building fellow in the program, acknowledged the large impact Braunig has had on his experience at Tufts and beyond. 

Rabbi Jordan has this incredible ability to make everyone he speaks to feel heard,” Gould wrote in an electronic message to the Daily. “He changed the way I view Jewish life and Jewish community on campus.”

Braunig expressed gratitude for his time at Tufts, where he said he found a natural personality fit with the students.

“I really just felt a natural connection to the student body, to students who were really open-minded and deeply passionate about their beliefs,” Braunig said. 

He added that the highlight of his job was simply getting to know the students on a deeper level and recounted some of his favorite memories working at the university. 

“Specific memories of events [include] Hanukkah happening in Tamper [Cafe] on Boston Ave,” he said. “[Also] marching with students and dining hall workers, and seeing students — sometimes first-years and sophomores — taking the lead and standing in solidarity with people whom they were really just getting to know on campus.”

Apart from leading the program, Braunig taught two courses within the Judaic studies department: Introduction to Talmud in the fall and Creativity and Queerness in Rabbinic Literature in the spring.

Jennifer Gray (E’20) was one of Braunig’s students and participated in his fall course. 

“In Intro to Talmud, Rabbi Jordan built a community in his classroom by encouraging us to collaborate with new peers and always reminding us to start each study session by asking how the other was doing,” Gray wrote in an electronic message to the Daily.

Rabbi Naftali Brawer, who is the Neubauer executive director of Tufts Hillel and also a Jewish chaplain, acknowledged Braunig’s commitment to enriching Jewish life on campus and his ability to uplift those around him. 

“He brings to his work the wonderful combination of deep Jewish wisdom and playful creativity,” Brawer wrote in an email to the Daily. 

On Aug. 28, Tufts Hillel announced that Elizabeth Aeschlimann will be replacing Braunig in the interim as director of community building.