Spotlight...on Alumni with Ben Silverman '82

By Allison Oppenheim
December 7, 2016

Among Rodeph Sholom School's many distinguished alumni, I have had the pleasure to get to know Ben Silverman (class of 1982). Ben lives with his wife and two children in Los Angeles but is frequently in New York on business. During social moments, Ben's time at RSS comes up willingly in conversation as both a point of pride and fond remembrance. So when asked to profile an alum, I immediately thought of him.
Ben's resume as an Emmy and Golden Globe winning television producer is known to many because of such hits as "The Office," "Ugly Betty," "The Biggest Loser," and "Jane the Virgin."  He is also putting together an upcoming slate of content including Apple's very first TV show starring the likes of Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow and Will.I.am. Yet Ben's hectic schedule has never kept him far removed from RSS. He remembers his time here first and foremost as a warm embrace. He cites the nurturing environment at RSS as fundamental to the development of childhood self-esteem. It was foundational in building his confidence in ways that continue to define him and his successes. "Beyond the core of academic preparation, RSS prepares you as a human to be someone who asks questions and is curious about the world," he said. He believes that RSS walks the critical line between allowing its students to find themselves while knowing that they are firmly a part of its rich, supportive community. "The acceptance that the community provides affords kids at RSS the confidence to question things around them, knowing that the safety net underneath them is strong," he said. 
 
At a recent Shabbat dinner our families gathered together to light candles, bless the challah and watch the kids play. It's a tradition that is important to Ben. He said RSS’s reinforcement of Jewish culture was primary in shaping his connection to Judaism. In fact, he said he made several attempts to recreate that sense of community and cultural belonging at other times in his life but had trouble doing so until his own children started attending a Jewish school in Los Angeles similar to RSS. He said that what RSS had that was unique was the connection to the Temple. "And the leadership at both the school and the Temple has continually been so exceptional, going from strength to strength." Indeed, it should be noted that CRS's Rabbi Levine married Ben and his wife, Jennifer, in Israel. Ben also credits RSS with shaping him as a Zionist (but he's careful to note he's not "cut from the cloth" and "not a Zionist without asking questions").  It is this kind of critical thinking, fostered by an RSS education, that aided him in becoming the savvy entrepreneur he is today. Ben is proud of everything RSS has given him—and we're kvelling over him, too! 

This article was written by Allison Oppenheim and published in RSS Connect Volume 3, Issue 2.
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