Joshua Mellits

On reading, writing and caring for others

Josh MellitsJoshua Mellits, MA/MBA’19

Imagine Josh Mellits as a 4-year-old sitting cross-legged on the floor with a newspaper spread out in front of him. Reading came quickly to Josh, who later devoured Time and Sports Illustrated to quench his developing curiosity of national and world events. His parents supported his interests, couching them in Jewish values and caring for others.

Imagine Josh, now 12. He still loves newspapers and writes for his middle school paper. Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? These are the tenets of journalism, a career option that crystallized into a path he would pursue one fateful day when he and his classmates were on a field trip to the Isabella Freedman Center in Connecticut. They were taking the New Jersey Turnpike from Philadelphia and had a clear view of Manhattan across the river. It was September 11, 2001.

“Cars began pulling off to the side of the road and in the distance, we saw smoke,” remembers Josh. “I thought it was just smoke from the smokestacks and the refineries from the different plants they have out there. But slowly we realized that something terrible was happening. Our bus pulled off at a rest stop across the river from Manhattan. We watched as the towers fell.”

Josh wrote about his experience, those of his classmates and others who were on the bus with him.

“I compiled testimonies of my classmates and teachers, who witnessed the attacks, for the school newspaper and found cathartic release in processing and expressing my own emotions through writing.”

He credits staff and chaperones for being calm and getting them home to safety. He recalls the wise words of one of the chaperones, a former elementary school headmaster who was the parent of one of his classmates on the trip: "Today we have seen that there is evil in the world, he told us. But you must remember. There is also good. Our job is not to shy away from evil, but to counter it with good."


At 12, Josh has been preparing for his bar mitzvah. He is intrigued by the idea his parents present to him about his bar mitzvah project outside of the synagogue. “My mother and father, a social worker and lawyer respectively, raised me to care about and stand up for others,” says Josh. When his parents suggested he lead Shabbat services at a nearby assisted living facility, he agreed.

The need to care for our elders and attend to end-of-life challenges is going to demand more and more of our resources and attention, says Josh, noting the large numbers of people who turn 65 every day. “I enjoyed these nursing home visits,” he says. “I never thought of them as obligations, but rather as family outings that I looked forward to.”

His parents thoughtfully constructed a home life imbued with rituals and lessons that were the building blocks for Josh's development. “Daily practices of gratitude, weekly Shabbat gatherings, seasonal holiday celebrations and frequent visits to Israel all served as lessons that taught me about the importance of family and tradition,” says Josh.

Josh credits his family upbringing and a caring community for his strong commitment to Jewish values and engagement in Jewish life. “These values, reinforced by my education at Perelman Jewish Day School, Saligman Middle School and Akiba Hebrew Academy, as well as USY and Camp Ramah in the Poconos, helped cultivate a commitment to repairing the world and a strong sense of self,” says Josh.

Josh went on to contribute to and edit publications throughout his school years. He enrolled at Boston University College of Communication, graduating with a journalism degree. Following graduation, he worked for 6 years in the development department of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), heading donor engagement and fund-raising events from the headquarters of the leading media-monitoring nonprofit.

In 2017, Josh enrolled in the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program where he is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Jewish Professional Leadership and an Master of Business Administration in Nonprofit Management at The Heller School for Social Policy and Management.

During the summer of 2018, Josh did his fieldwork, a component of the Hornstein Program, at The New York Jewish Week under Gary Rosenblatt, the paper's legendary editor and publisher, and managing editor Robert Goldblum.

At The Jewish Week, Josh says he “gained a greater understanding of the workings of one of the nation's largest and most well-respected Jewish media outlets, further developed my writing and data analysis skills through telling the story of the revival of Jewish Harlem, and initiated an updated readership survey.”

Above all, says Josh, “I reconfirmed my conviction that the contributions and presence of Jewish media are much needed yet are vastly underappreciated and underfunded.”

Josh Mellits at The Jewish Week

Josh has now completed his fourth of five semesters at Hornstein. “I fully appreciate this period of my life when I can focus on my professional development. I chose to leave a job I loved and come to Hornstein because I wanted to further develop my competencies among a close and caring community of faculty and fellow classmates who are working with me towards the same goals,” he says.

Where does Josh want to be in five years? “My focus is contributing to institutions that work for the community, by the community, both serving its members and setting goals to dream and achieve together.

“I envision myself as an editor/publisher at a Jewish media outlet, promoting dialogue and raising voices across the political and religious-practice spectrum, celebrating achievements and duly addressing challenges.

“I can also imagine fulfilling the role of Federation executive in a midsize city, having a tangible and lasting impact on community building, social services and strengthening ties to Israel,” says Josh.

In May 2019, Josh will graduate. He will be 30 years old. Imagine what he'll be doing then.

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“[At The Jewish Week] I reconfirmed my conviction that the contributions and presence of Jewish media are much needed yet are vastly underappreciated and underfunded.”

Joshua Mellits, MA/MBA’19