Temple B'nai Chaim will welcome Rabbi Rachel Bearman

A new permanent rabbi has been approved by members of Temple B’nai Chaim in Georgetown. She is Rabbi Rachel Bearman of Memphis, Tenn.

The temple has been led by interim Rabbi David Lipper since last spring, following the departure of Rabbi Leah Cohen, who moved on to a position with Yale University.

Rabbi Bearman was selected from a field of 40 applicants.

“I believe the contract has been signed and the rabbi will be starting on June 23 and will be moving to town probably the week before that,” Rabbi Lipper told The Bulletin Friday, April 18.

In a letter to congregants introducing her last month, the temple’s rabbinic search committee and executive board said, “Rabbi Bearman speaks eloquently about knowing she wanted to be a rabbi at an early age, and her pathway since then has prepared her well to become TBC’s next spiritual leader.”

Rabbi Bearman earned a master of arts degree in Hebrew letters last June from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and expects to graduate from its rabbinic program in May. She received a bachelor of arts degree in religion in 2008 from Middlebury College, where she was president of the college’s Hillel.

Her experience includes rabbinical internships at two Ohio synagogues, Temple Israel of Dayton and Temple Sholom of Springfield. She was a student rabbi at Temple Beth El in Muncie, Ind.

The search committee and executive board said they were “particularly impressed by Rabbi Bearman’s warmth and her deep interest in pastoral matters, as well as her knowledge of our faith’s texts and traditions. She also has had several experiences as a religious school and Hebrew school teacher.”

In a sermon she delivered last October on “Finding and Honoring Women’s Voices,” Rabbi Bearman said, “Over the past 50 years we have made huge, unbelievable strides, but so far, our efforts have been focused on one aspect of the process — making the traditionally male available to women. The next step must be finding and exploring the lives of Jewish women and then opening them up as resources for all people. …

“I just have to say that being a Jewish woman in the Reform movement is a complicated thing. On the one hand, we are the beneficiaries of decades of work done by equality-minded women and men. On the other hand, the resources that we are given by our rabbis, teachers and congregations seem to suggest that the best way to be Jewish women is to fit ourselves into the molds of Jewish men. …

“Our task today is not so much introducing something new and potentially threatening into Judaism as it is shining a light into the shadows of our tradition.”

Rabbi Bearman’s website may be found at http://rbearman.wix.com/rbearman.