Rabbi Barbara AB Symons
In 2013, I developed a mission statement which still holds true.
My Mission, as Rabbi of Temple David Congregation, is to deepen each member’s connection and commitment to Judaism and their self-understanding of and pride in Judaism, and to make the world a better place (Tikkun olam) by employing various traditional and innovative means; by learning, teaching, engaging in, and encouraging varied core Jewish experiences; and by working with interfaith and secular communities, while continually recognizing that our place on the 4000 year Jewish timeline is rooted in our remarkable past with a hopeful eye to the future.
To these words, images are added when I think about the 30 people who study with me monthly through our 9-in-9 series and when adults choose to become B’nai Mitzvah. They come alive when we go away for a Shabbaton (overnight retreat) to study and eat and sing and snack and enjoy the outdoors and then sit by the fireplace. These words gain meaning when I am given the honor of officiating at life cycles including special anniversary and birthday blessings and through meaningful weekly and festival worship which is based in tradition and always evolving. Together we enact my vision when we cook Christmas dinner – albeit with Jewish flavors! – for Fire Company #4 just across the street and also challenge ourselves to become anti-racists. They come alive when someone presents an idea and we do everything to say “Yes please!” These are only a few examples, but give a flavor (and speaking of flavor, just wait until you taste our homemade onegs!) of what and, more so, who Temple David is.
As for me, 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. 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 Ron, 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, having served other congregations in Connecticut and New York. I am the editor of Prophetic Voices: Renewing and Reimagining Haftarah (CCAR Press 2021) and hope that the voices of our prophets as well as Jewish voices throughout the generations can inspire and embolden the Reform Movement to reclaim the title of “Prophetic Judaism.”
Ron and I raised our three children Aviva, Ilana and Micah at Temple David and their love of Judaism and professional work in the Jewish community is a testament to the village that raised them.
Welcome to Temple David! I look forward to meeting you!