By Deb Silverthorn
Congregation Adat Chaverim’s new rabbi, Rabbi Wendy D. Pein “hit the ‘yes,’ ‘yes,’ ‘yes’ buttons as we checked off what we were looking for. We know she’ll bring a lot of vitality to both Adat Chaverim and our entire community,” said Barry Skolnick, chair of the congregation’s Rabbinical Search Committee who interviewed 13 candidates. “In defining what we were looking for, we had to articulate it on paper and that took great thought. Through meetings, focus groups, and open meetings, we came to a vision and Rabbi Pein is it.”
Born in New York and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, , Rabbi Pein recalls the influence of Temple Beth Israel’s Rabbi Al Plotkin. “I definitely developed a strong positive feeling about my Jewish community in Phoenix,” said Rabbi Pein. “I was close to my rabbi, I spent my summers at the JCC, and I believe that BBYO and Hebrew High had much to do with my strong, Jewish identity.”
While a student at Stanford University, the future rabbi was involved at Hillel and she taught religious school at Congregation Beth El where she first met a woman rabbi, Rabbi B. Elka Abramson. “Until then, I knew women could be rabbis, I just hadn’t met one,” she said. “Rabbi Abramson inspired me to follow in a similar path.”
As part of her studies at Hebrew Union College, Rabbi Pein spent a year in Israel and as an HUC Intern in Jerusalem where she trained incoming students. While studying at HUC’s New York campus, Rabbi Pein was a student representative on the Rabbinical Admissions Committee. Prior to joining Congregation Adat Chaverim, Rabbi Pein served as the Associate Rabbi at Congregation Emanuel, in Rye, New York, for six years. She and her husband Howard have two daughters and she couldn’t be more excited about moving west.
“Rabbi Pein is very warm, empathetic, and knowledgeable about Judaism. She has strong pastoral skills and a good heart,” said Rabbi Brian Zimmerman, director of the Southwest Region of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). “I believe that Rabbi Pein will build on the sense of community that Adat Chaverim was founded upon and she will bring energy and a love of teaching Jewish values.”
Close to 300 people celebrated to welcome Rabbi Pein, on Aug. 15, when Rabbi Lawrence “Jake” Jackofsky, who served as director of Southwest Region of the URJ for 30 years, installed Rabbi Pein to her post. Marcia
Grossfeld , assistant regional director of the URJ, Jean Callison, mayor pro tem of Plano, and Rev. Monsignor Henry V. Petter, pastor at The Catholic Community of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, neighbor to Congregation
Adat Chaverim, all shared in the evening.
“We were thrilled to share this very special service within a service to honor and welcome her,” said Jill Russell, member of Adat Chaverim’s Board of Trustees. “There’s been an overwhelming response to Rabbi Pein’s addition to Adat Chaverim and everyone, including the religious school, brotherhood, sisterhood, and our social action committee, looks forward to a new level of growth.”
“Rabbi Pein touches you, she is inspiring, and down to earth with an open door,” said Russell, noting that Rabbi Pein hosts a couch in her office, rather than chairs in front of her desk. “Her vision meets our desire to go out into our community; both the Jewish community and the greater Plano/Collin County community.”
“Adat Chaverim is a warm, welcoming, and dynamic congregation and the commitment by its lay leaders is inspirational,” Rabbi Pein said. “My mission, to teach and to reveal the beauty of the Jewish religion, makes us a match, and I know here I can fulfill that mission.”
“More than anything I hope to bring a deeper understanding of how Jewishness in ones life, how living a Jewish life, is rewarding and meaningful,” she added.
Joining Rabbi Pein on the pulpit, is Student Cantor Julia Rubin-Cadrain, a second year cantorial student at HUC’s School of Sacred Music. Cantor Rubin-Cadrain will travel to Dallas for the High Holy Days and, beginning Sept. 5, approximately once a month.
The melody of the cantor, and the service and mission of Rabbi Pein, are certain to bring Congregation Adat Chaverim into the New Year with song, spirit, and sanctity.
By Deb Silverthorn