Congregation Shir Ami Senior Rabbi Rebecca Reice
Rabbi and Director of EducationEmail: Rabbi@shir-ami.com
|Rabbi Rebecca Reice, R.J.E. is the Senior Rabbi and Director of Education of Congregation Shir Ami in Cedar Park, Texas. A native of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Rabbi Reice brings youthful energy, along with pastoral experience, scholarship, a passion for social justice, a deep sense of compassion and a healthy sense of humor, to her rabbinate.
In Rabbi Reice’s own words: “Growing up in Chapel Hill, I did not have a large Jewish community. There was no NFTY chapter, no Jewish Community Center. I was one of six Jews in my high school. In my early years, my Jewish identity was shaped by my family, my life in the synagogue, and my experience as a camper at OSRUI [URJ Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute]. I can trace my commitment to collaborative community to these formative years, when working together was the only way to build our congregation and ourselves.
“Our congregation is a community engaged in a culture of reciprocity, where we can each be valued as a teacher among teachers and a learner among learners, a spiritual person among spiritual people and a leader among leaders. As a rabbi in this culture, my role is as a leader, teacher, guide, facilitator, and resource to empower individuals to pursue their paths.”
Rabbi Reice has deep connections to the Austin area; she received her B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and later, during her rabbinical studies, served as a Chaplain Intern in the Seton Network, based at Brackenridge and Dell Children’s hospitals. Her rabbinical studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) began in Jerusalem and continued in Los Angeles, leading to a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters (2009) and a Master of Arts in Jewish Education (2010). During her studies at HUC-JIR, she was awarded the Samson H. Levey Prize for Outstanding Student in Rabbinic Literature (2012), the Samson H. Levey Memorial Prize for the study of rabbinic literature and Talmud (2011), the Lorraine Helman Rubin Memorial Prize for Scholarly Writing (2009, 2012), and the Cutter Pastoral Scholarship for summer Clinical Pastoral Education studies (2009). She also served in rabbinical and educational roles at Congregation Aitz Chaim in Great Falls, MT, Temple Judea in Tarzana, CA, Temple Emanu-El in San Diego, CA, Congregation Shir-Ha-Ma’alot in Irvine, CA, and Temple Beth Torah in China Lake, CA.
Following her Rabbinic ordination in 2012, Rabbi Reice served as Associate Rabbi and Jewish Educator at Congregation Beth Torah in Overland Park, KS. After years of faithful service as both Rabbi and Educator, she was awarded the title of Reform Jewish Educator (R.J.E.) in the spring of 2015.
Rabbi Reice came to Austin in January 2016 to serve at Congregation Shir Ami and was formally installed in November 2017. She enjoys full Clergy status and legal rights to perform all Life Cycle events and ceremonies, including weddings, funerals, memorial services, Brit Milah (Bris/circumcision), baby namings, B’nai Mitzvah, Bikur Cholim (visiting the ill) in the home or hospital, and pastoral counseling. Rabbi Reice also represents Shir Ami as the congregation’s Clergy in the Austin Jewish and Interfaith communities.
Describing her role as a spiritual leader and guide, Rabbi Reice says, “My rabbinate is that of a teacher, a prayer leader, a storyteller, a counselor, a voice for social justice, a mentor, and a community leader, guided by the values of Torah, avodah, and g’milut chasadim. This role does not demand that I occupy the spotlight, but rather requires collaborative work and preparation with members of the congregation, so that people are inspired and ready to lead in moments of community building.
“I love to sing and to tell stories; it makes my whole being light up. As a prayer leader and storyteller, I see room for creativity through instrumental and vocal music, through preaching and the crafting of meaningful narratives, through traditional and alternative forms of spiritual engagement. I am inspired by our set liturgy, and by music, poetry, and midrash, our sacred tradition of storytelling. Sometimes I am moved in ways that surprise me, like recently when I gasped in wonder that overnight the most beautiful wild white lilies had sprouted all along my jogging route after the recent, much needed rains. Experiences like these deepen my understanding of the psalms and our set liturgy, which are so tied to the natural world. They feed my soul as a prayer leader and a storyteller.”
Rabbi Reice lives in Northwest Austin with her husband, Asher Lazarus.
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