Q&A: Getting To Know Rabbi Zachary Schwartz, Talmud


Sylvie Pagovich '25

Sylvie Pagovich: Where are you from? 

Rabbi Zachary Schwartz: I’m from Sydney, Australia.

SP: What did you do before coming to teach at Ramaz?.

RS: Before teaching at Ramaz I used to work at Haftr in the five towns.

SP: What made you want to teach at Ramaz?

RS: Teaching at a high school has always been my dream job. I love working with teens – it’s like I’m talking to adults, pretty much. I enjoy high schoolers way better than middle schoolers, that’s for sure.

SP: Why did you want to teach Talmud?

RS: I love learning Torah. Torah is the best, you know, nothing better than Gemara.

SP: What is your proudest moment as a teacher? 

RS: I have a lot of them everyday. I even had one two days ago when a student from my class approached me and said that until this point, they’d never enjoyed learning Gemara in their entire life. But now, they enjoy it. So that’s very meaningful to me.

SP: What would you do if you had a day off from teaching? 

RS: A day off from teaching, that’d be great. I would probably wake up at 5:40 AM. I’d slowly daven, have a nice long chevruta, and go for a nice stroll in the park. And then I’d probably count down until the next time I’m at Ramaz.

SP: What was your favorite subject growing up? 

RS:I used to love English and loved to read. Honestly, as a student I hated Gemara or anything related to it. It took me years and years to enjoy Gemara. And now what do you know? Here I am teaching Gemara!

SP: What made you enjoy Gemara?

RS: It took me years in Yeshiva. At first, I thought the language was just so difficult to understand, and the kind of logic was very difficult. But I think once I got past those barriers and really got into the discussion and depth, I really enjoyed it. I found Gemara very meaningful. Just I’d enjoyed English, which is very creative and expressive, I found those qualities in Gemara as well.

SP:Is there any place you like to travel to?

RS: Anywhere. I love traveling everywhere. I grew up camping and had a lot of awesome vacations growing up. Place me in a beautiful Bungalow or in Hawaii and I’d be in Gan Eden.

SP: What’s your favorite book?

RS: I read Harry Potter in Hebrew – that was great.

SP: Who inspires you?

RS: Well, obviously, that’s an easy one. Definitely my ninth grade class. But beyond that, I get a lot of inspiration from my teachers. Teachers inspire me to be a better person: a little bit more angelic, a little bit less selfish. Seeing students who are struggling but working towards becoming better people after learning the text, also definitely inspires me.

SP: Are there any TV shows you like to watch?

RS:I’m in the middle of Master Chef. I love all cooking shows – you name it I’ve watched it! 

SP:What’s your favorite food?

RS: A good steak with the proper seasoning – nothing better than good steak with fries.