Rachel Weinstein White, 47, reimagining the ‘Hebrew school’


Rachel Weinstein White, the founder and executive director of Fig Tree, a New York-based Jewish education program for kids ages 3 through 13, was selected as one of the New York Jewish Week’s 36 to Watch (formerly 36 Under 36). This distinction honors leaders, entrepreneurs and changemakers who are making a difference in New York’s Jewish community. Weinstein White, who took what one podcast called “the radical leap from the business world to Jewish education,” lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

For the full list of this year’s “36ers,” click here.

New York Jewish Week: Tell us a little bit about your work.

Weinstein White: Fig Tree attracts families from Jewish+ (interfaith), interracial and/or secular backgrounds, along with those simply seeking a Hebrew school alternative. We started with a dozen kids in the fall of 2015 and today enrolls over 300 students per year in three locations.

Who is your New York Jewish hero?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Was there a formative Jewish experience that influenced your life path?

At one of the first seders that I hosted as a parent, we had a table full of friends and family who also had little kids and I had spent weeks planning activities, readings and crafts for them — along with supplemental text for adults. And it was so fun. At the time, I was in a corporate job that I loathed, and a lightbulb went on for me: I’d rather be doing this. It took me a few more years to make Jewish education a reality for me professionally, but that moment was a pivotal one.

What’s a fun or surprising fact about you?

We keep chickens in our backyard.

Want to keep up with stories of other innovative Jewish New Yorkers? Click here to subscribe to the Jewish Week’s free email newsletters.