This week rabbinic student Isaama Stoll is heading up to Camp Be’chol Lashon to teach Torah, pray and hang with other Jews of Color. We caught up with this dynamic leader on the rise to find out more about her journey to the rabbinate, being a role model and her match-making hobby.
BL: When did you first decide to become a rabbi?
Stoll: I’ve been talking about becoming a rabbi since I was six yrs old. I remember being in shul and looking at the rabbis and thinking that is what I would do one day. People always ask me, if I have one great rabbi role model or a rabbi who pulled me in. The answer is no. Being a rabbi was always what I was called to do. I was called to serve my community, to serve God.
Throughout my life, my family has been as supportive as possible in providing me with whatever Jewish opportunities I wanted.
Team BL: Such as?
Stoll: Saving up for summer camp and buying me Jewish books or studying with the rabbi. Whatever Jewish I wanted to do, they encouraged me to pursue.
Team BL: Did the fact that there were no Jews of Color as role models ever make you think twice about becoming a rabbi?
Stoll: As I got to middle school, I became increasingly aware of the place of Jews of Color in synagogue and in particular I was aware of the reception that greeted my mother. It really made me skeptical about how effectively I would be able to play the role of rabbi. But truthfully this was the path I was on and nothing could really dissuade me.
Team BL: What did your parents think?
I was a difficult kid, very much a know-it-all spewing halakha (Jewish law) at them. Especially when I was younger I was quite judgmental. They did value that my life goal was so focused on community. But sometimes I was challenging. For example, there was always a fight at the Passover Seder. We would get started, my dad would skip a page and I would freak out. I wanted to do every page. That would lead me to explain why that page was so important and there was constant head butting.