Anshai Torah welcomes Rabbi Helene Kornsgold
Photos: Portrait Creations
Rabbi Helene Kornsgold, seen with her dog Bailey, joins the team of clergy at Congregation Anshai Torah as its first director of lifelong learning.

CAT’s first director of lifelong learning

With the school year just ended, Congregation Anshai Torah is firing up the year to come with the addition of Rabbi Helene Kornsgold to its team of clergy. Anshai’s first director of lifelong learning, Kornsgold is packing up her family, curriculum and ruach for the move to Plano the first week of July.

“Sparking joy in Judaism, providing a joyful guide on the Jewish journey for individuals and our community is what I live for,” said Rabbi Kornsgold, making the move with her husband, Alon Avital, who is an accountant, and their dog Bailey.

“For children and adults, wherever people are in their lives, I want to share my absolute love for being Jewish and living a Jewish life — meeting each person wherever they are,” she said. “Pride in being Jewish and having a strong Jewish identity is critical at every age. I am excited to help extend that to those at Anshai and all around.”

Kornsgold will oversee Anshai Torah’s Religious School and its adult education programs and will work with the team supporting CAT’s new afterschool program, The Hangout, which is open to children in the community in grades K-5.

“We are super-excited to have Rabbi Kornsgold here and ready to welcome her and Alon with open arms. She’s had a wonderful career and her experience fits so exceptionally into what we want for our Anshai family,” said CAT’s Rabbi Michael Kushnick. “First and foremost, she’s an educator. Her desire to impact our members and to develop relationships as she takes the reins of our educational programs is of the highest form.”

After an extensive search, led by CAT members Ashley Acks, Rachel Goldin, Jessica Gordon, Manuel Rajunov and Rabbis Michael Kushnick and Stefan Weinberg, the enthusiasm for Kornsgold’s imminent arrival is shared by Beth Berk, CAT’s immediate past-president.

“Rabbi Kornsgold is energetic and ready to help us enhance our already wonderful educational programs,” said Berk. “Her love for Jewish life and learning defines the title of her position. We will all be better for the experiences, programming and passion she is bringing our way.”

Kornsgold, a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is the daughter of Rose and the late Morris Kornsgold and the sister of Rabbi Jay (Leslie) Kornsgold and Dr. Laura (Larry) Brandspiegel.

Rabbi Helene Kornsgold and her husband, Alon Avital.

A graduate of Solomon Schechter Day School and Akiba Hebrew Academy (now the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy), Kornsgold says it was her education and her involvement in United Synagogue Youth that formed her Jewish life and engagement. Spending the first semester of her junior year in Israel at Tichon Ramah Yerushalayim, she fell in love with the land of her people, she explained.

She considered working in television production or investment banking. But she was shaped by her father’s lengthy term as president of her childhood synagogue, her brother’s work as a rabbi and her brother-in-law’s as a cantor. She says that because of those influences, her career in the rabbinate fell into place.

“I love bringing people together and I knew I wanted to work in the Jewish world,” said the alumna of a dual-degree program between Barnard College and List College. She earned a master’s of Jewish education and rabbinic ordination from The Jewish Theological Seminary, which included her spending a year in Israel at the Conservative Yeshiva.

A dream to live in California was fulfilled when, from 2006 to 2009, Kornsgold was campus rabbi of Pressman Academy at Temple Beth Am and then for four years as religious school director at Temple Ramat Zion. In 2014, she returned to the East Coast, where she most recently served as director of congregational education at Temple Israel in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Next stop — and home, she believes — is Congregation Anshai Torah.

“Everyone has been so kind and caring and the people are just lovely. In just my short visit I absolutely get the sense of connection,” she said. “The Jewish community — all of it including Anshai, the day schools, kosher restaurants, so many wonderful congregations and agencies — seems to really be ‘at one.’”

—Submitted by
Deb Silverthorn

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