Temple B'nai Chaim welcomes rabbi with 'warmth and caring'

On June 23, Temple B’nai Chaim welcomed Rabbi Rachel Bearman as its new spiritual leader.

“I think the most challenging part of being a new rabbi at any synagogue is getting settled in a new community,” said Rabbi Bearman, who hails from Memphis, Tenn.

“I feel very lucky because Temple B’nai Chaim has helped me with everything — from finding an apartment to meeting as many congregants as possible.”

With Temple B’nai Chaim’s assistance, Ms. Bearman said, her move from Ohio to Connecticut has been “smooth and enjoyable.”

Ms. Bearman said being offered the position at Temple B’nai Chaim in late February was “a joyous moment.”

“I was over the moon. I had been dreaming about being a rabbi for 12 years, and hearing that such a fantastic synagogue wanted me to join their community was an incredible experience,” she said.

“I have wanted to be a rabbi for so long that it’s difficult for me to explain exactly why I knew that the rabbinate would be the right place for me.”

Since she was 16 years old, Ms. Bearman said, “I have sought out experiences that would help me to know whether I should continue along this path.”

Ms. Bearman said her experiences have included attending weekly Torah study, volunteering as a hospital chaplain, and a serving as a rabbinical student and intern.

Ms. Bearman not only served as the student rabbi of Temple Beth El in Muncie, Ind., she was also a rabbinical intern at the Temple Israel in Dayton, Ohio, and the Temple Sholom in Springfield, Ohio.

“In these positions, I conducted services, counseled congregants, led adult education classes, and officiated at life-cycle events,” Ms. Bearman explained.

“I have also been a B’nai Mitzvah tutor for multiple synagogues in Cincinnati.”

Ms. Bearman has also been a religious school teacher since high school and, she said, has taught “everyone from 18-month-olds to 12th graders.”

Ms. Bearman majored in religious studies at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vt. She then attended rabbinical school at Cincinnati’s Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR).

“My studies at HUC-JIR included everything from classic Jewish texts to strategies for counseling contemporary families,” she said.

Ms. Bearman feels “very lucky” for her experiences, she said, because everything she did has reinforced her passion to become a rabbi.

Temple B’nai Chaim

One of the most appealing aspects of being Temple B’nai Chaim’s rabbi, said Ms. Bearman, is being able to be actively involved in all areas of synagogue life.

“I provide pastoral care and conduct life-cycle events for our congregants, and, along with Cantor Sobel and our Ritual Committee, I am responsible for organizing and leading our holiday worship services,” she said.

“Additionally, throughout the year, I will be leading Temple B’nai Chaim’s weekly Torah study class, offering a variety of adult education programs, partnering with Jennifer Haynos and Alice Czuczka, the leadership of our religious school, and teaching the 10th grade Confirmation Class.”

Ms. Bearman said she will also be working with local clergy associations and building relationships with community organizations.

The best part about being Temple B’nai Chaim’s new rabbi, Ms. Bearman said, has been the “amazing welcome “ she has received from the temple community.

“I visited Temple B’nai Chaim for the first time in February and immediately felt like I had been welcomed into the family,” she said.

“Since then, I’ve learned that the warmth and caring that I felt on my first visit is actually the backbone of the congregation.”

Ms. Bearman said she is pleased that the congregation is exactly what she had expected — “a supportive and creative place ... to explore our spirituality, build social relationships and come together in study.”

“I am continually impressed by the number of people who are dedicated to Temple B’nai Chaim’s future,” she said.

As Temple B’nai Chaim’s rabbi, Ms. Bearman said, her goal is to partner with the congregation’s staff and leadership in order to “create opportunities for every congregant to connect with the community and with Judaism.”

“I look forward to seeing where our enthusiasm and vision take us in the future,” she said.

Hobbies

Aside from serving as Temple B’nai Chaim’s rabbi, Ms. Bearman said, she is a “voracious reader, amateur photographer and crochet enthusiast.”

“I love history and like spending time on genealogical research. I’m very close to my family and enjoy speaking with them often,” she added.

“Last, but not least, I’ve recently added a two-year-old Corgi to my life and am very much enjoying getting to know her.”