A Student's Journey of Faith and Advocacy

March 20, 2024
Mickey Benson

Mickey Benson, who is earning their Interreligious Studies Graduate Certificate, recounts being “insufferable” as a teenager.

“I was all of these things that were very difficult and expensive and annoying to maintain,” said Mickey.

Things have changed. As a young adult, they choose to see the good in others, and they draw inspiration from the phrase, “Let the goodness in me connect to the goodness of others, and then the world will be healed.” Mickey is also actively engaged with nonprofit organizations to help and advocate for the disenfranchised. 

Growing up, loving the neighbor was unquestionable in their house. Their parents often hosted and fed people. “That was kind of the fundamental of what ultimately love and solidarity work looks like for me, and that just continued to evolve.” For Mickey, loving their neighbor would be incomplete if they didn’t show up for their neighbor regardless of their religious identity

Mickey works for the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, a network of congregations and organizations in Southwestern Pennsylvania committed to drawing together people of faith to act powerfully on local and regional issues of justice and fairness. They also work for the New Pennsylvania Project, a voting rights organization with a year-round primary focus on voter registration, civic education, and mobilization. 

Mickey enrolled graduate certificate program seeking further knowledge from Dr. Amy Jill Levine after reading her book “The Jewish Annotated New Testament.” A professor at Hebrew Union College, where they study nonprofit management, suggested it.

“HIU is really a place where I have never doubted how wanted I am,” Mickey said. They remember almost getting in trouble in high school for missing class for Jewish holidays but faced a different scenario at HIU when they emailed a professor explaining they would be absent for Rosh Hashana. They pleasantly received an email informing them that HIU was closed that day. “I've also had the gift of being able to do two interfaith Community Prayers to talk about days that are important to me,” they added. 

Looking ahead, they plan to enroll in our MA in Chaplaincy program. 

They recommend HIU to those seeking careers in the Jewish world as it provides an interfaith space where they can engage with others committed to self-discovery and understanding different perspectives. “I think that is the biggest gift you can get. That learning is so important.”


Join our mailing list

Keep up with all the latest happenings at Hartford International.