Rabbi Samantha Kahn’s First Message to Temple Sinai

Two years ago, I bid farewell to my family and friends of Congregation Emanu El in Houston, Texas, as I followed my husband to the Bay Area and began the next chapter in our lives. For six years I served nearly 2,000 families, offering the complete range of rabbinic duties with my clergy team. And though saying goodbye meant my rabbinate changed, in many ways it stayed the same. I went from being ‘the outreach rabbi’ at a large congregation to working for a smaller institution that was all about outreach, education and love.

I live to make Judaism accessible and exciting for everyone looking to explore Jewish life. As the director for InterfaithFamily in the San Francisco Bay Area, I call myself a rabbi of the people, because I love meeting people wherever they are and helping connect them to Jewish community.

Being with people in their joys and their moments of struggle is a blessing, and being part of their everyday lives is a true gift. I love knowing people’s stories, helping them make connections to others and connections to Jewish history, culture or tradition.

I will cherish the opportunity to get to know every member of the Temple Sinai community and to build an authentic relationship with each person.

For Judaism to be exciting, let alone relevant, it needs to provide real and helpful insights for how to live a meaningful existence. The Judaism I live, teach, and preach does just that. It connects with people whoever and wherever they are on their life’s journey – and offers traditions, values, and community that can help enrich the lives they live. Ultimately, I believe I exist to be a kind and welcoming presence that guides people through their lives and helps navigate the pinnacle moments.

There are experiences that shape us; moments of clarity, of joy or wonder.  Whether it be the birth of my children or a beautiful sunset, I love stopping to appreciate and punctuate time. I call these my ”Sinai moments.” Connecting with the awe that the  Israelites experienced during the revelation on a small desert mountain, the term ”Sinai” for me has come to describe times of overwhelming gratitude or new inspiration.

While ”standing at Sinai, ” I am my most grateful and inspired self. While ”standing at Sinai, ” strangers become friends, and friends become family. While ”standing at Sinai, ” The Eternal Source of Blessings feels accessible.

As your new rabbi, I promise to approach Temple Sinai as if it were that holy mountain; greeting each day and every encounter with awe and love, creating more moments of revelatory joy.

Together, we can foster inspiration, community and spiritual searching. Together, we will pray and play, learn and teach, celebrate and overcome. Together, we will improve and appreciate the world around us.

My family and I are excited to join you in paradise and explore our world in partnership.

I look forward to standing with you at Temple Sinai, creating new ”Sinai moments, ” and embarking on a great journey, together.