Thank Goodness for Mistakes

The first big programming event I led as a rabbinic intern at Congregation Beth Adam was a mixer with fourteen-year-old Israeli scouts and their Beth Adam host families. The goal of the evening was to help the Israelis get to know the Americans as well as introduce them to both American Judaism and Beth Adam Judaism, which is its own…

Ask the Question

What happens when we ask a question? A few weeks ago, I found myself sitting in the Teller Lounge on the historic Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion with an Episcopal priest and a Muslim university chaplain — me in leggings and a denim shirt, the priest in a tweed suit, and the chaplain in a brightly…

Searching, Creating, and Finding Community in Cincinnati

I will go to just about any event that offers free food. The College-Institute advertises a lunch and learn with free food; I am one of the first RSVPs. The synagogue plans to run an evening meet and greet with light hors d’oeuvres; I am the first to volunteer to meet, greet, and — of course — eat. Food motivates…

Facing Death, Facing Life

This summer was one of the most challenging of my entire life. I knew it would be. In fact, I signed up for it. Toward the end of last school year as my classmates were firming up their fellowships for the summer, I made the very challenging decision to work as the rabbinic fellow at Cedar Village Retirement Community. This…

Turn It and Turn It Again

This year, I am intimately involved in the creation of a new spiral curriculum around Torah for the religious school at Isaac M. Wise Temple. While I expected to contribute to the congregation and hoped the project would transform how we learn Torah at Wise, I did not anticipate the transformative impact this process would have on me as a…

Becoming Everyone’s Rabbi

This summer I served as the rabbinic fellow at Rockdale Temple in Cincinnati, OH, where I led services and Torah studies, wrote sermons, and developed curricula alongside Rabbi Sissy Coran and Rabbi Meredith Kahan. Although I can easily present the products of my labors, my experience at Rockdale was far more meaningful than a pile of papers. Over the course…

Bearing Witness: Remembering the Past to Protect the Future

Shema! The watchword of our faith, the Shema, demands us to use our ears and hear the statement being made: God is One. Our central belief tells us to listen. In the Reform siddur, Mishkan Tefilah, the Torah passage that commands us to listen takes up an entire page. At the bottom of that page, there is a note about…

Pluralism and Interfaith

A pluralistic and interfaith rabbinate — that’s how I would sum up to colleagues in a few words my professional role these days. As Director of Jewish Family Life of the Mayerson Jewish Community Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, I have the privilege to work each day with people from a variety of backgrounds and across the spectrum of Jewish tradition.…

Journey to Jewish Ethics

I went to rabbinical school not so much to be a rabbi as to find out what I wanted to do and hopefully find my passion. When I was younger, age eight to be exact, I was clear that the best way to change the world was to be a politician. Based on this ambition, I acquired the skills I…

An Ever-Evolving Rabbinate

I was exactly twelve weeks pregnant the day of ordination. Having not been a mother through rabbinical school I had no sense of the profound impact the sacred role parenting would have on my rabbinate. My first year as a rabbi I worked as the Director of Cincinnati Hillel, where I had worked as the rabbinic intern during my fifth…

Back to School

I’m writing these words from my middle school office at The Davis Academy, Atlanta’s Reform Jewish Day School. And as I write, I can hear activity all around me. Chairs being moved in the classroom above me. The Front Desk phone ringing as parents come to grab their kids for end-of-day doctors’ appointments, student athletes picking up their gear before heading…

“Will You Please…”

“Will you please…” Like markers on a trail these three words have dotted the path of my rabbinate. A moment in time where I am forced to stop and feel the presence of vocation and the presence of God. Some stops are fleeting a place to catch my breath — refocus and refresh. “Will you please pass the challah? Will…

Notes from a Chaplain

I serve as chaplain in a private, prestigious and fast paced school for seventh through twelfth graders. My work has a wide range and includes some activities that seem rabbinate-y and others that are less obvious. These include: designing and teaching a required eighth-grade course on health; designing and coordinating a cutting-edge substance education program for our community; sponsoring a…

Spirituality Meets Entrepreneurship

My first memories are of camping in Yosemite and Big Sur. I grew up backpacking in the Sierra, but when I made Aliyah, I left the outdoors behind for an observant Jewish life in Jerusalem as I studied, four years in yeshiva and then HUC in Israel. All that changed while I worked as the program director at Kol HaNeshama.…

On and Off the Bimah: A Rabbinate of Both

For the first five years of my rabbinate, I served as a congregational rabbi in a large suburban synagogue — and I loved it. Now, I am the Senior Engagement Officer at MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, and I love this too. A rabbinate doesn’t have to be solely on or off the bimah; mine has been both. Staying…

I Took the One Less Traveled By

My rabbinate has been unlike most. In my HUC interview, I stated that my intention was to be become a camp director in the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. At that time, youth work was not viewed too seriously at the College. Nevertheless, I was accepted and thrived during my time studying in Jerusalem and Cincinnati. During my third year,…

A Woman of Valour

“A woman of valour who can find? For her price is far above rubies.” (Proverbs 31:10 JPS) Eshet Hayil, A Woman of Valour,” the acrostic poem found in Proverbs 31, is a Jewish expression of appreciation for women. In many Jewish households these words are sung every Friday night, and they are also commonly sung to a bride during her…