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Rabbi Donna Kirshbaum to Lead Bethlehem Hebrew Congregation for 2019 Season

Members of Bethlehem Hebrew Congregation (BHC) are pleased to announce the appointment of Rabbi Donna Kirshbaum to the pulpit of the Bethlehem Hebrew Congregation. Rabbi Kirshbaum served as pulpit rabbi at Congregation String of Pearls in Princeton, New Jersey prior to moving to Israel where she led services, read Torah, and spoke at a local Masorti synagogue near Beersheba. 

Rabbi Kirshbaum brings to BHC her experience as a congregational rabbi, chaplain, educator, writer, and speaker. She is, in her own words: “passionate about reinvigorating Jewish traditions, insights, and learning for the 21st century in order to help communities and individuals add more joy and meaning to life and meet its conflicts, ethical dilemmas, suffering, losses, and challenges in robust, Jewishly informed ways.” 

In recent years, Kirshbaum has been active in the Women Wage Peace movement following the 2014 Gaza War. She was a major force in its growth to over 40 thousand volunteers and 55 thousand supporters worldwide working actively to create new responses to conflict and write grant proposals on behalf of the movement. 

In addition, she has served as Publications Committee Chair of the Jewish Women International Clergy Task force for the Prevention of Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence. Throughout the Negev, she has presented talks on a variety of Jewish topics, including an Introduction to Talmud , Peace in the Jewish Tradition, and Fasting in Judaism. Following her ordination in 2008, she served as a pulpit rabbi in New Jersey where she created and piloted an innovative Hebrew school curriculum based on Rashi. 

She has been tapped to coordinate a national Jewish bioethics coalition which has become a clearinghouse of seminal resources written by coalition members, all committed to advancing a uniquely Jewish bioethics platform. Several of her commentaries have been included in “A Guide to Jewish Practice” whose first volume won the 2011 National Jewish Book Award. 

Her experience includes serving as a chaplain at Johns Hopkins Hospital (Baltimore), participating as an American Jewish World Service student delegation member to Ghana, and working as co-founder of Bolton Street Synagogue Religious School, Baltimore, Maryland. 

Her many awards and honors include the Lillian Fern Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Reconstructionist Rabbinical college Community, the Rabbi Devora Bartnoff Prize for Spiritually Motivated social Action, the Driesen Prize in Science and Judaism, and the Birnbaum Endowment Award for “extraordinary dedication to Klal Yisrael and distinguished service to the Baltimore Jewish educational community.” 

Rabbi Kirshbaum will commence her spiritual leadership of BHC on Friday, July 5 when she leads our Kabbalat Shabbat service followed by Saturday morning services and Torah study. She will be with BHC for the summer season and through the High Holidays to the end of season service on Simchat Torah. 

BHC members welcome Rabbi Kirshbaum and look forward to her leadership and teaching.