Temple B'nai Abraham
a Reconstructionist Synagague
The Reconstructionist Jewish Congregation in Bordentown, NJ
Rabbi Julie Pfau began serving Temple B’nai Abraham as a Rabbinic Intern in 2006, and came on as Rabbi and Education Director in 2008. During rabbinical school, she also served several other communities in the roles of service leader, cantor, and teacher. In addition to her congregational work, Rabbi Pfau has an ongoing passion for chaplaincy – during rabbinical school, she did a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at Egleston Children’s Hospital in Atlanta, GA, and was a chaplaincy intern for two years with Jewish Family and Children’s Service (JFCS) of Greater Philadelphia – work that she continued after her ordination. Rabbi Pfau has also participated in continuing education for Spiritual Direction, and is always eager to engage in the task of discerning the holy – inside and outside the synagogue.
Rabbi Pfau received her rabbinic ordination and a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2010, and is currently a doctoral student in the Department of Religion at Temple University. She also holds an M.A. in Jewish Studies from Emory University in Atlanta, GA, and a B.A. in Psychology from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD.
The following is from Rabbi Pfau’s vision statement, written at the time of her ordination:
“When a person stands up to pray and recites the words of the prayers, s/he is gathering beautiful buds and flowers and blossoms, like someone walking in a field picking lovely blossoms and flowers one at a time, until s/he makes a bouquet.”
– Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, Likutey Moharan 65:2
I understand God as tahalikh ha-tz’mihah, the process of growth – an understanding which profoundly shapes my spirituality and sense of rabbinic vocation. I continually garden my own life and spirit – striving to create open spaces and a conducive environment for tahalikh ha-tz’mihah, so beauty and nourishment grow through me into the world. As a rabbi, I endeavor to assist others in the task of gardening their own lives – working together to plant new seeds, create openings for growth, nurture buds already above the ground, and pull the inevitable weeds.
When I visit people in hospitals or nursing homes, I can imagine bringing them prayers the way others bring bouquets. As with flowers, so with prayer – I want to revel in every word and melody, tenderly pluck my favorites to arrange beautifully, breathe in a sense of holiness… Just as I delight in prayers, so too do I delight in other aspects of my rabbinic work. Most importantly, I delight in the souls I encounter. They are more beautiful even than the prayers.
I eagerly anticipate a lifetime of walking through the fields of congregants, clients, and students – gardening with them, but also taking time to discern and bless the slightest hints of emerging growth.
Blessed are you YHVH source of growth.
Jill Ratzan has served as Temple B'nai Abraham's Education Director, Tot Shabbat Coordinator, and High Holidays Assistant since the summer of 2016. In these roles, she designs curriculum, teaches participatory and energetic classes, and manages the everyday life of the school. She is especially passionate about creating contemporary ritual, sharing Jewish stories, and integrating children's and young adult literature into Jewish education.
Jill holds a bachelor's degree in linguistics from Swarthmore College and a masters of library and information science from Rutgers School of Communication, Information, and Library Studies. Her writing has appeared in BookPage magazine, School Library Journal, Ritualwell, and MyJewishLearning.com's Keshet blog, and she serves on the Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award committee. She recently completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey and is a regular volunteer at the Highland Park (NJ) Community Food Pantry.
Jill invites you to reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.