Rabbi Barbara AB Symons
I am a lifelong, proud Reform Jew. I grew up at Temple Gates of Heaven in Schenectady, New York and felt like Temple was my second home. The rabbi would stand in the foyer greeting each person and pinching our cheeks and I would see my friends and to this day, I enjoy seeing my parents’ friends when I go back to visit. As a student, I attended Kutz Camp and NFTY in Israel and worked at my local Jewish Community Center as a camp counselor.
After graduating from the University of Michigan, I worked at the Jewish Community Center in Worcester, MA and then attended Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. I was ordained in 1994 on the bimah of Temple Emanuel of New York City about 2 minutes before my husband, thus earning the title “senior rabbi” in our home.
I came to Temple David in 2006 after serving in a young, small congregation outside of Boston for eight years. I was seeking the opportunity to grow as a rabbi and as a Jew.
When I came to Monroeville, I found a warm, inviting congregation which was both proud of its history and open to new ideas and approaches. We study together, pray together, seek social justice together and socialize together.
For example, I am very proud of the sixteen women who became Adult B’not women and how hard they studied and how they deepened their connection to one another and to Temple David. I enjoy my “Lunch with the Rabbi” where we go out to a local restaurant and leave the table satiated – not only from the meal, but from the conversation and the relationships. I relish the opportunities to work with my interfaith colleagues through the Monroeville Interfaith Ministerium and think of our recent “meager meal” fundraiser alongside the Muslim Community Center to benefit local food pantries. I think of our summer services in the outdoor sanctuary and the way in which our volunteer choir enhances our services. I think of the enthusiasm of our religious school faculty and of our Student Council. I think of challah tasting Shabbat for which six or seven congregants bake. There are just so many examples of how our community is engaged with Judaism and with one another… but you need to see them for yourself!
There is a saying that a synagogue is a House of Prayer, House of Learning and House of Gathering. I hope that Temple David will soon be your second home. It certainly is mine.