What were you looking for in a synagogue?
What were you doing before this?
For the past 8 years, I've been Director of Jewish Life and Learning at Sid Jacobson JCC in East Hills, NY. There, I created opportunities for people from the youngest children to the frailest elderly to connect to themselves, each other, and to Jewish tradition through learning, celebration and acts of lovingkindness.
Tell us a little about what connected you to Judaism.
I fell in love with Judaism when I first read the Torah at 10 years old. There, I read about people who seemed real to me. Sarah was jealous of Hagar and angry at Abraham, even though it was her idea that Abraham have a baby with Hagar. Leah was envious of her sister Rachel, because Jacob loved her more, because she was prettier. Miriam and Aaron felt left out of the decision-making by Moses and kvetched about it.
Even at 10, that felt so real to me, and so reflective of my own life! I was, and am still, so moved by the fact that our tradition sees these flawed human beings as our holy ancestors! You don't need to be perfect to do extraordinary things!
Which means we can do great things starting right now.
Where did you receive your training?
I studied at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. Before applying to rabbinical school, I hadn't heard of Reconstructionism. I was teaching Hebrew School in a Reform synagogue and the music educator told me: you have to go to RRC, you would love it!
She was absolutely right. Reconstructionism offered me the richness of a commitment to practice and tradition along with the forward-thinking of intellectual rigor grounded in the real needs and lives of Jews.
Today, I serve on the Board of Governors of the College.
What would you say is your philosophy of Judaism?
Judaism is a treasure. This treasure chest contains wisdom from long-ago ancestors for building whole people, healthy families and strong communities.
We've been adding to the chest in each generation, bringing new insights and learning how to apply the old ones to a new age.
The stories and practices of our tradition are tools that can support and sustain us through times of joy and trouble. As a rabbi, my mission is to teach people how to use the tools to enrich their lives and communities.
How’s the new house?
The house is beautiful! And it's getting more so, as it's being painted this week. We'll move in on July 2nd, and we are so looking forward to welcoming you! Izzie, our mini-poodle, knows that each of you are friends she hasn't met yet, and can't wait to greet you with kisses! Please join us to dedicate our new home at the end of Shabbat, August 25 at 7:30 pm.
click the above image to read the interview!