FilmShtiebel Hive Internship Project


In this interview, Ashira Beutler-Greene ’07, Ph.D. and Rabbi Heather Miller '01, Founder of Keeping It Sacred (KITS), share details about the Hive Internship Projects they designed in the summer of 2020. Beutler-Greene and Miller are the creators of FilmShtiebel, a program that provides an inviting educational experience pairing media and Jewish texts. They hired two students through the inaugural Hive Internship Projects program — Molly Flanagan ’21 and Ilana Tamir ’22.

What was it like to work on a team of Wellesley alums and students across class years and across distance to bring this project to life? (during the pandemic, no less!)
Beutler-Greene​: I was thrilled to assemble a team of individuals affiliated with Wellesley's past and present, and found the process of creating a team motivating. I have always been impressed with the inner drive of those who self-select to become part of our community. We had the ambitious goal of launching a full project and brand presence in six weeks, and this process tangibly demonstrated our team's thoughtfulness, resourcefulness, and creativity.

Miller: Bringing together community over the internet isn't easy, but it was a pleasure to work with Molly and Ilana — both to nurture new talent and be inspired by their ideas. We decided not to publicly call them interns; on our website, they were listed "team members" — because that's what they were. 

What did you enjoy about working with Illana and Molly during the summer?
Beutler-Greene​: The professionalism of our team was extremely impressive, and it was wonderful to be able to give both Molly and Ilana projects to own. Discovering their desire to collaboratively make decisions about the tone of various brand collateral was a pleasant surprise, and many people have complimented us on the quality of the visual design. 

Miller: Both Ilana and Molly brought their own unique talents and expertise to the bear on this project. Ilana is involved in both Jewish life and rugby at Wellesley, and brought an understanding of teamwork and community to the project. Molly, a Cinema and Media Studies major, contributed an understanding of film composure and narrative arc, along with graphic design expertise.


Instagram promotional presence developed by Molly Flanagan ’21

Could you share some details about the impetus for the FilmShtiebel project and the August pilot?
Beutler-Greene​: In addition to active participation in various young professional initiatives, which I wrote about in the Forward in 2018, I saw a gap for programming which straddled informal education and community building around art. I felt there was an opportunity to fill it through cinema-based educational programming which starts from secular content and provides an opportunity to share various religious and philosophical Jewish perspectives. This idea is based indirectly on the recently published book Here All Along by Sarah Hurwitz. In the book, Hurwitz relates the joy of investigating and observing Judaism in a post-denominational way. The book describes many universal values and tenets of Judaism: attitudes, behaviors, and general traditions (i.e. annual holidays and Shabbat).

If felt this was a critical and fairly non-polarizing message that could appeal to individuals from any Jewish denomination or generation. Furthermore, the project seeks to meet many individuals where they are; trying to determine how Judaism fits into their secular lives. For individuals who start from a more observant background, there is a tension in the opposite direction, namely how much secular content can be engaged with while living an observant life? By sensitively curating a film program and supporting materials, individuals on both sides of this issue can find a way in. 

While I had initially planned to launch FilmShtiebel in autumn 2020 in DC with a local partner, the pandemic made location less of a priority than finding an effective format for conversations in a digital environment. Rabbi Heather Miller '01 was an early pioneer in the digital Jewish education space, and I believed our collaboration would pair interesting films with substantive Jewish texts. The good fortune of having been approached by Wellesley Career Education to serve as a Bridge Alliance Project leader for the summer was the perfect opportunity to build a small multi-skilled team and demonstrate to students interested in film, technology, and social engagement that an ethical film discussion series could meet many of their substantive needs.

What are your goals for the project and your hopes for its future?
Beutler-Greene​: I am currently exploring different audiences and scales for the project and am currently in a second pilot with GatherDC. I also plan to seek funding for the project in 2021 and in the process of collecting information and advice on this matter.