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Alumni Updates


Marc Blattner is the President and CEO of the Jewish Federation in Portland, Oregon, where he has worked for over ten years. Blattner received his B.A. in 1992 with a double major in Religion: Judaic Studies and Near Eastern Studies. His journey to Emory was far from straightforward: he was planning on going to New York University for their five-year MBA program when he attended a Soviet Jewry rally in Washington, DC, in December 1987, and at that moment decided he wanted to work professionally for the Jewish community. As a result, he made a last-minute change to in his educational plans, setting his sights on Emory because it offered a better route to his chosen life path. “I never saw the school until the moment my parents dropped me off at my dorm,” Blattner recalls.

After graduation, he attended the Baltimore Institute for Jewish Communal Service and graduated in 1994 with an M.A. in Judaic Studies at Baltimore Hebrew University (since then merged into Towson University) and M.S.W. from the University of Maryland School of Social Work. Following graduate school, he started work at The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. Blattner describes his training at Emory as having prepared him well for a career in Jewish communal service.  “Emory is a world-class institution with phenomenal professors, and you’re in a vibrant, active Jewish community in Atlanta. I think Emory just offers the world to people.”


Sarah Blenner received her BA from Emory in 2007, with high honors in Jewish Studies, and went on to earn both a JD and a Master’s of Public Health. She currently works as the Director of Field Studies and Applied Professional Training for the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. She chose to be a Jewish Studies major because of the interdisciplinary nature of the program, which provided the flexibility to look at topics through various lenses, including anthropology, religion, political science, and history. One of her most rewarding academic experiences was completing an honors thesis, advised by Prof. Michael Berger, and Blenner says the work she conducted on that thesis led to internships and applied practice experiences in her public health and law programs, which ultimately positioned her for a job following graduate school.


Allyson Dhindsa graduated from Emory in 2008 with a BA in Jewish Studies. Dhindsa says she was drawn to the Jewish Studies major by the extraordinary professors—such as Ken Stein—who shaped her time at Emory, and also due to the advice her father gave her to “take professors, not just courses.”  She says that like many liberal arts graduates, she is not pursuing a career directly related to her major, but that her work relies on the critical thinking skills she learned as a Jewish Studies graduate. She is currently Associate Director for career coaching at NYU’s Stern School of Business, and she needs to be both critical and careful when she thinks about how to best support her students. Congratulations are also in order – she recently had a baby!


Andrew Gryll received his BA from Emory in 2005 with a double major in Jewish Studies and Math/Economics and a minor in Hebrew. After graduation, he worked for the non-profit The Israel Project for three years. He is currently the Manager of Gift Accounting and Donor Compliance at Georgetown University. In this role, he maintains compliance for all pledges and giving, serving as a quality control officer and a key member of the Advancement team. As Gryll was pursuing a liberal arts education, he took his first classes in the Jewish Studies program based on interest, and then decided to become a major after getting to know the core faculty. He found the professors to be knowledgeable and approachable and says a Jewish Studies degree will aid you in whichever career path you pursue.


Dr. Avinoam Patt received a B.A. from Emory in 1997; he majored in Religion: Judaic Studies. Patt always loved learning about Jewish history and culture but did not realize one could pursue an academic career in the field until he encountered the Jewish Studies professors and mentors at Emory. Patt credits Professors Michael Berger, David Blumenthal, Deborah Lipstadt, and Ken Stein for developing his love for the field of Jewish history, which has been the focus of his professional career. After graduating, he decided to pursue graduate studies in Hebrew and Judaic Studies and Modern European History at New York University, receiving his Ph.D. in 2005. Reflecting his research focus on Jewish life in Holocaust and post-Holocaust-era Europe, first position after NYU was as the Applied Research Scholar for Jewish Life and Culture at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Patt held the Philip D. Feltman Chair in Modern Jewish History at the University of Hartford between 2007 and 2019, during which time his first book was also published: Finding Home and Homeland: Jewish Youth and Zionism in the Aftermath of the Holocaust (2009). Since 2019, he has held the Doris and Simon Konover Chair in Judaic Studies at the University of Connecticut, where he also serves as director of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life. Patt has a new book coming out this month called, The Jewish Heroes of Warsaw: The Afterlife of the Revolt, which examines how the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising became the prism through which Jews around the world chose to remember the Holocaust both during and after the war.

Fun fact: Patt met his wife Ivy while at Emory – she was a Psychology major and Religion/Jewish Studies minor, and is now a clinical psychologist. They have three children and live in West Hartford, Connecticut.

Rabbi Amber Powers received a B.A. in Religion: Judaic Studies from Emory in 1996 and rabbinic ordination and a Master of Hebrew letters from Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC). Rabbi  Powers became executive vice president of Reconstructing Judaism, the central organization of the Reconstructionist movement in Judaism, in September 2016.  She also serves as a member of the regular faculty.  Powers served as a member of RRC’s academic administration from 2004-2016.  Her previous roles at RRC included dean of admissions and recruitment, assistant vice president for enrollment and rabbinic formation, acting vice president for academic affairs, and vice president for student development.  Before joining the RRC staff, she served as rabbi of Temple Menorah Keneseth Chai in Northeast Philadelphia and as the mid-Atlantic regional director of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation.

She has also been a guest contributing writer for and other Jewish Web sites and is author of “Commentary on Haftarat Vayechi” in The Women’s Haftarah Commentary, edited by Elyse Goldstein (Jewish Lights, 2004), and “Hearing Ancient, Courageous Voices for Justice and Change: Parashat Masei” in Torah Queeries, edited by Gregg Drinkwater, Joshua Lesser and David Schneer (NYU Press, 2009). She was a participant in the Senior Executive Action Learning Team sponsored by Advancing Women Professionals in the Jewish Community (AWP).  She is an alumna of the Wexner Fellowship Program for Jewish Professionals.