Choose Your Comprehensive Jewish Studies Rabbi/Cantor
I was born in South America to parents who fled Europe at the beginning of World War II. From an early age, I was exposed to my father’s work building bridges with different segments of the Jewish Community as well as his pioneer efforts to further relations within the multi-faith community of Uruguay where I grew up. I was inspired by his work and decided to pursue a rabbinic career that would extend our family’s rabbinic dynasty dating back to the 16th century.
I have lived in five different countries in Latin America as well as in the United States, and have a wealth of experience in working with individuals of all ages and all ethnicities. It is my firm belief that conveying an understanding of the rich tapestry of the Jewish religion and tradition to people raised in an environment with little or no knowledge of it, is a transformative experience.
Additional Languages: Spanish
I received my degree in Religious Literature from Cal State University at Northridge (CSUN), studied Rabbinic Literature at University of Judaism and received my ordination from JSLI in New York City. I have been blessed to be able to share my talents and knowledge of Judaism with students from all over this world.
I look forward to sharing Judaism with you. Baruch Hashem!
When I was 12 years old, I took an aptitude test that showed that the career for which I was best suited was clergy; the second best was teacher. But, when I was 12, there were no female clergy. I did the second-best thing: I earned a PhD in literature and became a college professor. Times changed. Life happened. And I wanted deeper connections with God and with human beings. I applied to The Academy for Jewish Religion-California ’s fully-accredited, pluralistic, egalitarian and trans-denominational rabbinical school. I studied with Modern Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Renewal, Reconstructionist and Humanist rabbis, cantors, lay teachers and students. I was ordained by a Modern Orthodox rabbi, a Renewal rabbi and a Reform rabbi; my sponsor was a Conservative rabbi. I am trained in and attuned to the full spectrum of Jewish practices. So, when people ask me what kind of a rabbi I am, my answer is simple and heartfelt: “A good one, I hope.”
I am a member of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California and a Governor of the Sandra Caplan Community Bet Din, the world’s only trans-denominational Bet Din. I have served as a congregational rabbi, a hospice rabbi and a hospital rabbi. I also serve part time as a rabbi in Hawaii. I find joy in writing and officiating at creative, soulful rituals. I am certified as a Jewish Spiritual Director and Jewish Sacred Chant practitioner. My personal spiritual practices include writing, meditating, hand quilting and gardening.
There’s always been a strange dance within me: Judaism and music. I resonate to their respective and braided rhythms. You could probably say I’m Jewsical, and I see the world through Jewish eyes. How do I know this, since I’ve never had any other kind of life-lens? Well, I consistently search for goodness in people and in situations. As I go along, I’m reminded that life is difficult and life is sweet…. people are both sick and well, angry and gentle, and that we consistently strive for balance. In this way, Judaism has the nice round shape of life itself, and the pull of dichotomy that gives us wheels and energy.
I also believe that Shalom, peace, is much more than the absence of war or strife: Shalom is wholeness. Music (and food!) can bring people together even through our differences. Once we start to dialogue, we can keep the beauty within disagreement.
In my spare time (hah!) I enjoy my two teenagers; my nearly-centarian mom; my four cats; books (mostly non-fiction or historical fiction), movies, food and cooking (mostly pescatarian), and my treasured friends. I also love to laugh. I believe that every relationship must include laughter, no matter who you are.
I am a pulpit rabbi with 16 years of congregational experience, currently serving as rabbi of Sinagoga Ner Tamid del Sud. I came to the rabbinate later in life, after a career as a special education teacher, counselor and a professional puppeteer – as creator of The Kids on the Block international educational puppet program. When I made the decision to study for the rabbinate, I found that I was the oldest in my class and my fellow students called me “Rabbi Mama!”. I have a MS in education/psychology from George Washington University, para-rabbinic certificate from Hebrew Union College, smicha (ordination) from Rabbinical Seminary International and advanced smicha from The Rabbinic Academy.
As a result of my personal journey, I am open and sensitive to those students who slowly and steadily have been drawn to Jewish life. As the first and only woman rabbi in Italy and the first and only non-orthodox rabbi in Italy, I have had the pleasure and honor to work with many “b’nei anusim” students – those who have discovered and now desire formally to embrace their Jewish roots. I have learned how important it is to extend the hand of Jewish welcome to all those who are drawn to Jewish studies.
My Judaism is based on continuous-on end learning while “daring” to ask challenging questions. It is ethics that comprise the foundations of Judaism propped up, however, by ritual and ceremony that should not be neglected.
Who am I? I am a native of Israel and a veteran of the IDF. I earned a doctorate in US history and published my dissertation as US Policy on Jerusalem. I have also been awarded by the Hebrew Union College the degree of Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, in recognition of my “commitment, dedication, and service to Judaism and the Jewish people”. Besides my love for Judaism and scholarship, I love my four dogs with whom I hike daily. I love to travel to foreign countries and learn about unfamiliar cultures and geography.
Rabbi Mordechai Rothenberg
I have a long and winding path towards the Rabbinate as well. I was raised Orthodox in Miami, Florida and I am Yeshivah educated. I am the proud father of four amazing children. I often work with those who have fallen on hard times and those society deems “forgotten” – those suffering from addiction, and spiritual and actual incarceration, as I have been there myself and lived to tell about it. I lecture and teach in the areas of Jewish law and spirituality, specifically the ideas of joy, happiness and acceptance of every person for who they are, as taught by the Hasidic Master, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. I believe in the power of forgiveness and second chances.
I am here to answer questions, to listen, to advise, to be of service to you every step of the way and even beyond! Whatever your soul seeks, I am honored to be there with you.