Four Questions with Associate Rabbi Sarah Reines

By Erica Slutsky | Communications Manager

Tell us more about your education and training and what led you to becoming a rabbi.

Twenty-five years ago, I was ordained as a Reform rabbi by HUC-JIR (Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion), but my academic path to the rabbinate began here at Temple Emanu-El. My parents were on the Religious School faculty and, early every Sunday morning, I would scour the library stacks and the bookcase in the Teacher’s Resource Room. My favorite choices were Wise Men of Chelm and All of a Kind Family, but I eventually progressed to books on comparative religion and Jewish practice.

Previously, you were our Interim Associate Rabbi from 2017 to 2018. How did that prepare you for your current position?

After a lifetime in the pews, as an Interim Associate Rabbi here, I adjusted to life at Emanu-El on the bimah, which was a powerful, surreal, and sweet experience. I also got to know the rest of the rabbinic team as clergy colleagues. Rabbi Davidson is a childhood friend, and we worked together at Central Synagogue, but Rabbi Ehrlich had previously been my rabbi, and Rabbi Sapadin had previously been my congregant. I loved becoming part of a team with them, Rabbi Andrue Kahn, and Cantor Mo Glazman. I am eager to pick up where we left off, and to have the added delight of working with Cantor Sara Anderson!

You’ve led congregations at Temple Shaaray Tefila and Central Synagogue, both in New York City. Tell us more about your connection to the local Jewish community.

I feel so fortunate that my career has been based in NYC, such a diverse and exciting center of Jewish life. In between Central Synagogue and Temple Shaaray Tefila, I worked independently as a Rabbi Without Walls, which meant my reach expanded beyond NYC to surrounding areas, cities around the country, and even overseas.

What are you looking forward to as our new Associate Rabbi?

The two years of the pandemic have led to a lot of shifting in people’s personal and communal lives. It’s a time of reorientation and an opportunity for creative growth, and Jewish professionals are now approaching Jewish life through a new lens. I find it comforting at this moment in history to return to a place that is home, and also energizing to be looking ahead to exploring possibilities for communication and connection that didn’t exist before.

This article was originally published in Volume 93, Issue 3 of the Temple Bulletin, Summer 2022.

Watch Rabbi Sarah Reines’ Shabbat sermon from Saturday, July 30, 2022, below.