The Center for Small Town Jewish Life at Colby College cultivates vibrant, socially equitable communities rooted in their own sense of place, nourished by transformational learning, and intertwined with the broader Jewish world.


We envision a diverse Jewish landscape that affirms the value of every individual and the power of mutually beneficial collaboration. The Center for Small Town Jewish Life brings this vision to life in Maine and empowers professional and lay leaders to realize it throughout the United States, especially in communities outside of major population centers.


Anyone who seeks it should have dignified access to inspirational learning and thriving Jewish life, regardless of their financial resources or where they live.

  • Effective programs use learning as the foundation for community building and strengthen relationships across lines of difference.
  • Transformational education results from hands-on engagement and the dignity of high expectations. We value academic rigor in all of our programming and in the ways we train leaders who serve Jewish communities.
  • Jewish life thrives when communities are connected locally and globally. We are committed to connecting isolated Jewish communities to global Jewish resources and to building a vibrant network of connections among small-town Jewish communities in the United States, Israel, and the global Diaspora. 
  • Contemporary Jewish life in the United States involves Jews and non-Jews engaging collaboratively in the work of Torah. 
  • True collaboration, among individuals and institutions alike, rests on profound respect for each partner and a constant commitment to mutual benefit.


Student Leadership Fellows

Meet the 2023-2024 Student Leadership Fellows

The Center’s fellowship is open to students of all backgrounds to exercise leadership in our community in accordance with the wisdom, cultural riches, and values embodied in the Jewish tradition. This fellowship integrates service to the Colby, Waterville, and statewide community with rigorous Jewish learning and mentorship.

Advisory Board

Our advisory board is comprised of Jewish leaders and thinkers who bring valuable wisdom and experience to the Center. Rabbis,  academics, entrepreneurs, trailblazers—each member of our cohort of advisors has at least one trait in common: an unwavering passion for growing Jewish life, and making it accessible in all communities, regardless of size, location, demographic, and financial capacity.

Rabbinical Student Apprentices

The Center’s rabbinical student apprenticeship program offers a unique twist on the classic small-town student pulpit. Each apprentice works in a diverse and vibrant community large enough to support its own clergy but small enough to crave the energy and excitement for building Jewish life that rabbinical and cantorial students bring.