Congregation Beth El–Keser Israel

85 Harrison Street, New Haven, CT 06515-1724 | P: 203.389.2108 | office@beki.org

Our banner is based on BEKI’s stained glass, designed in 2008 by Cynthia Beth Rubin. For information on this and other of Cynthia’s work, go to: <a href="http://www.cbrubin.net" target="_blank">www.cbrubin.net</a>. Artisan Fabrication by JC Glass of Branford, CT

Meet Rabbi Woodward

My family and I are delighted to join the diverse, vibrant, and welcoming community at BEKI. Having served as a senior rabbi in the Philadelphia suburbs and as an assistant rabbi in Columbus, Ohio, I am grateful for the professional, personal, and spiritual journey that has brought us to New Haven at this moment.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, the oldest child of two native Angelenos: my mother, an Ashkenazi Jew with roots in Chicago, Vilna, and Trochenbrod, and my father, himself the son of a mestiza immigrant woman from Oaxaca and a white man whose Dust Bowl wanderings had carried him from Oklahoma to LA. I am deeply proud of my Mexican and Jewish background, but as a child and young adult I sometimes worried that I was not Jewish or Mexican “enough.” Today, a core part of my rabbinate is focused on lifting up Jews of color and of interfaith backgrounds, and affirming that each of us is, as it were, enough – that we all belong.

Eager to explore the world beyond LA, I moved east to attend Williams College in Massachusetts. Williams is where I met my wife, Katharine Baker, and where I took hold of my Jewish identity and discovered my love of Jewish text, prayer, and community (not to mention critical theory and the academic study of religion). Eventually this set me on the path to the rabbinate.

I was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary, and also studied at Yeshivat Hadar in New York and Mechon Schechter in Jerusalem. My approach to pastoral care was shaped by my training at JTS as well as an intensive unit of chaplaincy at Bellevue Hospital in New York, where I was privileged to serve a diverse, urban, largely uninsured community. In 2012 I joined the American Jewish World Service clergy delegation to Muchucuxcah, a Mayan village in the Mexican Yucatan, which sparked a deeper connection to my Mexican and indigenous roots.

Throughout my rabbinate, I have been committed to social justice and interfaith action. As assistant rabbi at Congregation Tifereth Israel, I engaged in community organizing with B.R.E.A.D., a coalition of 41 Columbus congregations, and testified before the Ohio State Senate with the Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. As rabbi at BEKI, I am eager to learn from and join forces with our neighbors of all faiths through CONECT, and to support BEKI members in their own ongoing work to repair the world.

Most of all, I am animated by the pastoral calling of my work – joining with people as they go through all the vicissitudes of human experience. I am here for you, and if you need someone to listen and care, please reach out to me. You can email me at rabbi@beki.org.

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