Jody Gerth Spreads Her Love to HBHA

Gerth+setting+up+shabbat+candles+on+a+trip+to+Israel.+Image+courtesy+of+Jody+Gerth.

Gerth setting up shabbat candles on a trip to Israel. Image courtesy of Jody Gerth.

Ellie Glickman, Writer

Only a few short months ago, the smiling face of Jody Gerth came to Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy (HBHA) as the upper school MS/US executive assistant.  Gerth balances the hectic and demanding organization needed to run the HBHA middle and upper school with a consistently friendly demeanor. She maintains a positive attitude even in the most stressful of times. Coming from St. Louis, Mo., Gerth’s mission at HBHA is to make the life of students and faculty  “a little bit easier.” Gerth says,“it’s really hard to be a teacher and be on for eight hours a day.” She then talked about the struggle of being a student saying, “it’s a lot of studying, it’s a lot of learning, it’s a lot of social craziness.”

 

Gerth grew up about an hour from St. Louis in Gerald, Mo. She describes the town she grew up in as “Hunting, fishing, 4H.” She also says it was “a great place to grow up, but hard because there were no Jews.” Gerth says that her Jewish community was separate from her day-to-day social group, and it “helped strengthen my identity because I knew that I was different and I wanted to embrace that.”

 

Gerth has worked at schools internationally. In 2015 and 2016, she served in the Peace Corps teaching at a school in Panama. She describes her time in Panama as one of the most “challenging experiences” of her life, but it was rewarding because she learned that she can “still make a change even if you can’t see it.”

Gerth setting up shabbat candles on a trip to Israel.Jody Gerth joins the administrative team in the 2022-2023 school year. Image courtesy of Jody Girth.

After Panama, she moved to St. Louis. Gerth dabbled in interpreting and teaching Spanish, and she even spent time working at a dog hotel. Eventually, she started working at a synagogue Sunday school and found her purpose in Jewish non-profits. Gerth’s work at the Jewish Federation of St. Louis included organizing and running teen trips to Israel. 

 

The unity of the Jewish people is one of Gerth’s greatest inspirations. She says, “I think it’s cool that there’s Jews all over the world and that we all have something that connects us.” She is empowered by the many differences between Jewish communities. Gerth says, “we all can connect and be together.” Gerth hopes to help HBHA students “see that it’s fun to be Jewish, and it’s fun to be connected to the Jewish community.”