Alumni Stories: Fivel (Philip) Glasser '98

If you would have told me when I entered Dartmouth that 20 years after graduation I would be an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi living in Israel, working as an experiential educator and teaching the History and Religion of Israel toteens, I would have thought that you were crazy! But that is exactly where my circuitous path has taken me.

My first Religion class with Susan Ackerman my Freshman Fall (Religion 4, The Religion of Israel), profoundly changed the path of my life. I fell in love with the history of the Ancient Near East, and the academic discipline which combined history, theology, archaeology, anthropology and philosophy. I focused on the Judeo-Christian Traditions at my time at Dartmouth, and went on to do an MTS at Harvard, thinking that I would take the academic route. I spent winter term of Sophomore year in Israel and fell in love with Israel.

I also began my own slow path towards becoming religious myself (I was raised in a Reform Jewish household). After Harvard, I took a position at Colgate University both as the Jewish Chaplain and a Visiting Professor in Philosophy and Religion, teaching Jewish Studies and Hebrew.

After a year of campus life, which I loved, I felt pulled to return to Israel where I began to study Jewish text intensely. In my third year of studies, I decided to become an Israeli citizen and to stay here, and I began teaching Torah and Jewish outdoor skills (I am a Dartmouth man!) to young Americans on a gap-year program in Israel.

I later returned to continue my studies for another 3 years, earning my ordination as an Orthodox Rabbi.

I have been teaching Judaism and Environment for a number of years, and  I also became a licensed tour guide by the Ministry of Tourism, returning back to my Religion 4 roots, delving back into the archaeology and ancient history of this corner of the world.

Now I work in Educational Tourism, running programs for English speaking youth that come on long-term programs to Israel--and all because of that first Religion 4 course my Freshman year!

Please be in touch if you're thinking of visiting Israel! (