Meet Jewish Person of the Week – Michelle Mantel
Let’s Meet Jewish Person Of The Week – Michelle Mantel
I never thought I would ever end up back in Hebrew School but now I could not imagine myself without it! I went to Hebrew School, became a Bat Mitzvah, and received a confirmation at the synagogue I now teach at, Ezra-Habonim Niles Township Jewish Congregation.
Where did you grow up?
Where did you go to school?
Niles North High School and Illinois State University
What did you do Jewish growing up?
What do you do for work?
I’m a Pre-K Teacher and Social Media Marketing Manager for the Board of Jewish Education Early Childhood Centers in Wilmette. I also teach Religious School at the Ezra-Habonim Niles Township Jewish Congregation two days a week.
What do you Jewish now?
Judaism is naturally integrated into my life every day through my work as a teacher. I am passionate about teaching core Jewish values such as Tikkun Olam and started a group called Early Tikkun Olam Adventures to teach children how they can make a difference in repairing the world in hands-on ways.
I love planning Jewish events in collaboration with my program Early Tikkun Olam Adventures. Early Tikkun Olam Adventures actively teaches children how to repair the world hands-on. Early Tikkun Olam Adventures has a great working relationship with the ARK in West Rogers Park. I’ve led service-learning events for families with young children as well as for teachers through the Chicago Teachers Project.
How did you end up in your current role?
After a Birthright Trip to Israel, I fell in love with not only the land but also the richness of Jewish culture and community. I dedicated my life to Jewish learning when I came back by working in Jewish settings. It was at that time where I found my true calling k as a Jewish educator. I have been very fortunate to receive top-notch hands-on training in my work as a preschool educator through the Chicago Teacher’s Project, a 2-year fellowship specifically for progressive Jewish early childhood educators through the JUF.
What is your favorite way to spend Shabbat?
Teaching Tefillah Shabbos morning at Ezra-Habonim The Niles Township Jewish Congregation, followed by a must-needed Shabbos nap!
Tell us more about your love for Shabbat?
I enjoy bringing in Shabbat with people I love and care about. I enjoy a night of solitude on Shabbat to allow myself to pause and reflect on the week. On Shabbat mornings, I help lead our student’s in Shabbat prayers and take them up to the bima in front of the congregation. It’s quite a beautiful experience that I’m blessed to experience weekly!
What do you do for fun/to relax?
Nature is very grounding for me, I love being by the water and appreciate all the earth’s natural wonders. I also enjoy spending time with friends and family. Since I work 6 days a week, Sundays are a required ME day where I like to recharge by doing things around the house and spend time by myself. I love a good Netflix binge! I’m also a fan of writing and reading.
What is your favorite Jewish event in Chicago?
Shabbat on the Lake
What is your favorite hidden gem in Chicago?
Polygon Cafe in Andersonville. Great food and ambiance.
Top three things on your Chicago bucket list?
I’ve still yet to skate on State Street, attend a Bear’s game (though I did cheer at one in high school), and go to Medieval Times.
When the Tribe Gathers…Things Get Real!