Chester Synagogue Welcomes New Rabbi

Original Article Published on The Jewish Ledger

CHESTER — Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg is Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedeks spiritual leader, activist, and cheerleader/publicity director all rolled into one.

What attracted me was the people, reports Goldenberg. They are wonderful, creative people who participate with gusto. The spirit of the place drew us in. It is a very warm and caring place. Goldenberg, her husband Jim Talbott and two young children, Amina and Ziv, recently moved to Deep River following her four-year stint as assistant and associate rabbi of the 2,600 family Temple Emanu-El synagogue in Dallas, Texas. Goldenberg received her rabbinic ordination in 2003 at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City.

The Reform congregation has had a succession of rabbis recently, following the departure of Rabbi Cory Weiss. After Weiss, Rabbi Darry Crystal assumed the pulpit, followed for one year by Rabbi Ilene Bogosian, and now Rabbi Goldenberg.

Goldenberg looks forward to her first year where she will listen and learn about the congregation and then work with the congregation to develop a vision together of who they want to be. Goldenberg already loves what she sees.

The worship services are lively and uplifting, and the Hebrew school is a treasure-lively, creative, and the students love to come.

Rabbi Goldenberg brings a strong sense of social justice and community service/organizing to her work. In rabbinical school, she coordinated the student-run soup kitchen. While in Israel as part of her training, Goldenberg was active in Rabbis for Human Rights, where she coordinated volunteers working with the Bedouin community and helped mobilize students to participate in political action. In addition, Goldenberg studied the peace process and the Arab-Israeli conflict in both Israel and Jordan. Goldenberg currently serves on the board of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America and is a member of the Womens Rabbinic Network of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and is on that organizations social action committee.

Goldenberg is proud of her synagogues already strong commitment to Darfur and looks forward to helping (congregants continue to) see how their Judaism is relevant to public policy. The congregation, formed through the merger of the Reform congregation Beth Shalom and the Conservative Rodfe Zedek, has historically attracted a diverse constituency.

There are young families and retirees, artists, writers and thinkers, children of chicken farmers and people who used to work for the regions resort communities, the rabbi explains.

It feels like the Jewish community is truly connected to each other, observes Goldenberg. There is something very wonderful about coming here!

Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg will be installed at Shabbat services on Friday, Nov. 2, at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek, 55 East King Highway, in Chester. There will be a dinner on Saturday, Nov. 3, with music provided by A Klez Act. Participants will include the rabbis father, Rabbi Irwin Goldenberg of York, Penn., her former senior rabbi, David Stern of Dallas, and other spiritual leaders of all faiths, including former Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek Rabbi Douglas Sagal. For more information, call (860) 526-8920.

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