Real Talk with Daniel Kirzane

Career Administrator

Many of the Real Talk blog posts have dealt with stories of alumni who work for the government or some form of public service, but there has been a prominent group that hasn't been represented yet. UVA has a large religious studies department, a considerable population of students who are strong in their faith and want to dedicate their lives to it. Thus, this blog post will tell the story of a UVA alum who dedicated his college life to his faith and continued to do so upon graduation. 

Daniel Kirzane graduated from UVA in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts in Jewish Studies and Religious studies. He is currently an Assistant Rabbi at The Temple, Congregation B'nai Jehudah in Overland Park, KS. 


Daniel Kirzane began the interview by saying that Judaism and his love for Jews had always been a huge part of his life, so wanting to become a Rabbi after college was the perfect fit for him. He started working for a Rabbi while he was in high school, then obviously studied Judaism in college, while also working at Hillel, which is the Jewish Center at UVA. 

Even though becoming a rabbi was both the logical and desired choice for Daniel, he had to face many hurdles as he was becoming accustomed to the role. One of the obstacles Daniel commented on was going from being a student who had been deeply engaged in Jewish studies to be a practicing rabbi was a huge leap for him. He quickly became an integral part of baby-naming ceremonies and funerals, which are high-stakes events for people. The heaviness of these events often weighed on Daniel but he drew the conclusion that, "No one likes to be the cause of someone else's dissatisfaction, but it's unavoidable in this line of work and it gets easier over time." In terms of financial viability, Daniel wanted all of the future UVA rabbi's to know that the rabbinate in American is generally pretty well-compensated and the structure of each congregant is designed for you to live like your community. 

The last thing Daniel wanted to leave with everyone is that in order to be a successful rabbi, one should be curious, have a love of people, an abundance of patience and compassion, but also the ability to say no and set boundaries. The most difficult part of being a rabbi for Daniel has been carving out time for himself and for his family, but he assures people that this is a skill that will come with time.  

As the end of the semester is in sight, the PSG community hopes that the Real Talk series has helped assuage some concerns. There are still a few more stories left and if there is an industry that you were hoping would be covered but hasn't been yet, feel free to email me at