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Jordy Callman, who grew up in Medfield, says she has been “TBE adjacent” for many years and has long viewed us as her model for synagogue worship. So, far from being surprised by what she has found here, she is getting exactly what she wanted and dreamed about. “I knew what I was coming to.”

She comes to Wellesley from Denver, her first congregational assignment, where she worked for four years and where she and her husband Matthew had their first child, Matan, now almost two. All three of them traveled to her interviews, her parents coming from Massachusetts to get some grandparent time. Now, of course, they pickup at Gan Elohim Early Learning Center at TBE.

Jordy has an extensive education and background in matters pertaining to Israel. She has a master’s concentration in Israel Studies from the iCenter for Israel Education and served as a Birthright Israel Fellow (spoiler alert: she and her husband met at the airport on the way to Israel, where they were both staffing Birthright trips). She was an AIPAC Rabbinic Fellow, as well as an intern at NFTY in Israel with our own former Rabbi David Wilfond. She has brought hundreds of people to Israel, and is leading our congregational mission to Israel in March.

She is thrilled to have the Israel portfolio, though she didn’t request it. Rabbi Sisenwine made the decision to assign it to her. “I am grateful to be trusted with it” and has pride in the way that TBE has responded to the October 7 Hamas attack, which she characterizes as having three parts: head, heart and hand.

The other key part of her portfolio is being the school rabbi for our K-7 kids and supporting the family learning portion of the b’mitzvah program.
When she is not at work, she is likely to be outdoors—her family lives one block from the Charles River in Watertown. Even at the temple, her favorite spot is the courtyard, where she takes her phone and answers emails while walking!

On a more serious note, Jordy considers the biggest internal challenge to American Judaism today to be a lack of empowerment among many Jews that often leads to apathy. The remedy? A Judaism where people are knowledgeable and feel a strong connection to their faith, where they feel that Judaism is a meaningful way to live their lives. Ironically, she notes that converts, with whom she worked often in Denver, know exactly why they find Judaism meaningful. This is exactly what she aspires to for the next generation.

Her openness and inclusiveness are exemplified by her view of the names of converts. If someone with a traditionally Irish or Italian name converts to Judaism, that becomes a Jewish name. “When there is an opportunity to be more expansive,” she concludes, “it is almost always the right answer.”

On March 1, 2024, Jordy will be installed by Rabbi Steven Kaye, the founder of Or Chadash, a unique Jewish coaching and consulting practice that supports clergy and lay leaders.

This post was written by TBE congregant Carol Clingan after interviewing Rabbi Callman.

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