Judaism and spirituality have been important to me my entire life.
I grew up with a strong Jewish identity. My family was identified with Reform Judaism and we were very involved in our synagogue (my parents helped found our synagogue with a group of other Jewish families in the area). I was always strongly drawn to Judaism. Unfortunately, my parents quit the synagogue when I was eleven. I continued to be involved in Jewish youth groups, and when I got my driver’s license, I visited synagogues in the area to find my own Jewish home. I began to teach Sunday School and joined a congregation (and my parents soon followed me!). I took classes in Jewish Studies in college, and spent my junior year living in Israel.
After graduating from college, I began working professionally in the Jewish community. Shortly after beginning work at Hillel, I felt the call to become a rabbi. There were four reasons that propelled my decision. First, I realized there was so much I did not know; I wanted to fill in the gaps in my own learning. Second, I knew that Judaism had a lot to teach about the importance of pursuing justice; I wanted to learn more about those aspects of Jewish tradition. Third, and related, I believed that I could be more effective in doing justice work if I were a rabbi. And fourth, I knew that being a rabbi would offer a number of exciting professional opportunities.
My journey as a rabbi has been an interesting and rich one. I have served congregations full-time for 17 of the past 30 years (Virginia, Berkeley, Seattle), and part-time for much of the remainder. I recently concluded ten years of service to Kol HaNeshamah, a Reform congregation in Seattle, WA. My decision to leave congregational life will allow me to pursue some of the other areas of rabbinical work that I have long found compelling and meaningful.
This includes the work that I have done since 1994 in spiritual direction, or spiritual companioning. I began my training in spiritual direction at the Mercy Center in Burlingame, California, in 1993; at that time, I was among a small handful of Jews who received this training. Since 1994 I have been offering spiritual direction to individuals and groups (those who are Jewish as well as those who are not). I taught at Lev Shomea, a national training program to teach other Jews about spiritual direction from a Jewish perspective. I have written a number of articles that have been instrumental in the emerging field of Jewish spiritual direction.
I have been a writer for most of my life. I have written a number of children’s stories, and am working on a book about prayer. I am also working on a screenplay and a book about the healing journey. I am an aspiring artist (perhaps I’ll be a real artist in my next life!) and have dabbled in puppetry for the past fifteen years.
I enjoy helping others explore their own spiritual life and practice. I also love helping make Judaism more accessible and meaningful to others.