Shayna Han (she/her) grew up in New York and is a member of Temple Israel of New Rochelle. The intersection of Judaism and social justice is a deep and abiding part of Shayna’s life and identity: she was involved with NFTY, Urban Mitzvah Corps, Crane Lake Camp, Hillel, Birthright, Masa Israel Teaching Fellows, and the RAC’s very own L’Taken and Machon Kaplan programs. Shayna graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Union College. She earned the Minerva Prize her senior year for her history thesis on watershed literary heroine Nancy Drew and her work to establish the Committee for Consent Education (a group dedicated to combating sexual assault). After graduation, Shayna interned for U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in New York City and earned a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification. From 2016-2021 she lived in Spain, Israel, and South Korea, teaching English to elementary school students. Her experiences abroad enriched her cultural knowledge by allowing her to learn different languages, meet new people, and experience different foods, holidays, and beliefs.
The upcoming holiday of Tu BiShvat -- the birthday of the trees - brings back a memory of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. In the museum is an enormous cross-section of a giant sequoia tree. Standing before it is a sublime experience. The cross-section overwhelms you with its sheer size, inspiring questions about the size of the tree it was cut from.