Friday, February 3, 2012

Jordan Herskowitz: Working at GOA Challenging, Rewarding

From the Lone Star State to the Empire State and states overseas, Jordan Herskowitz has definitely made his mark.
With the titles of Golda Och Academy’s Tefillah Coordinator, Experiential Educator, and Theatre Teacher, Mr. Herskowitz is the epitome of our well-rounded faculty.
Mr. Herskowitz joined the GOA family in 2010 as the High School drama instructor and Middle School multimedia instructor.
“For multimedia, we do different creative projects like podcasts, short films, cartoon clips, and voice-overs,” Mr. Herskowitz said.
With a theatre degree from The University of Tulsa, Mr. Herskowitz is also the assistant director for the school’s musicals. This year, he is the director of the High School play, a rendition of Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs, which will be held on March 22 and 25.
“When I started last year, the school had never done a play before, just the musicals,” the Dallas native said. “It was a completely new experience for the kids. When you do just a play, you don’t have the spectacle of the music, and you have to focus on the acting.”
The diversity of the GOA arts department – music, acting, singing, and more – is always expanding, something Mr. Herskowitz is proud to be a part of.
“I hope that it gives the students a way to practice whatever art they want to,” he said. “I’d like to keep directing shows that challenge me personally and continue to connect to the students.”
Growing Up Jordy Pordy
Mr. Herskowitz began his career as the writer and performer of Growing Up Jordy Pordy in which he plays over 30 characters. “I talk about growing up Jewish in Texas, my family, wanting to be an actor,” he said.
He also talks about the importance of organ donation and cystic fibrosis, a disease that has directly affected his life. Both of Mr. Herskowitz’s brothers were diagnosed with cystic fibrosis; his brother Richie passed away in 2007 at age 17.
Performances of Growing Up Jordy Pordy raise money and awareness for organ donation through Richie’s Spirit Foundation, an organization founded by Mr. Herskowitz and his family. It offers a transplant assistance fund and a scholarship each year for a graduating high school senior.
“It goes to a student who embodies characteristics of my brother Richie,” he said.
In the past three years, Mr. Herskowitz said he has done about 350 performances including shows in the United Kingdom and South Africa.
“The show is one thing we do to get the word out,” he said. This summer, Mr. Herskowitz plans to perform Growing Up Jordy Pordy in Grand Rapids, MI, at the Transplant Games of America, an Olympics-style event for organ donors and recipients.
When he’s not working in the arts, Mr. Herskowitz serves as Golda Och Academy’s Experiential Educator.
“I’m in charge of programming – holiday and Shabbatonim,” he said. “I organize the different special holiday celebrations at school and organize and run the grade level Shabbatonim and the All High School Shabbaton in March.”
But wait, there’s more. Mr. Herskowitz is also Golda Och Academy’s Tefillah Coordinator, a job he finds both challenging and rewarding.
“I was looking to expand what I was doing here,” he said. “I wanted something that would allow me to work closer with the students. It’s really stretched my skill-set. There’s always something new about it.”
The tefillah options at GOA, which include a women’s discussion group, meditation, and art tefillah in addition to traditional prayer, are important to Mr. Herskowitz.
“Tefillah has changed from a very rigid prayer structure into a time to focus on one’s connection to God,” he said. “Our program really tries to echo what the students and our families want. We’ve grown as a school and the community has changed. These options reflect the needs of our students. Our program is adaptable and open for change.”
And that’s also a good description of Mr. Herskowitz – adaptable and open for change.
For previous GO Behind the Scenes, click below:
Paula Spack

Sandra Charlap