Rabbi Bridget Wynne
I'd like to tell you a bit about myself. I hope you will get in touch to ask any questions you have about Jewishness or Jewish Gateways, and perhaps to tell me about yourself.
I grew up as a cultural Jew, celebrating holidays with family and friends. My mother was Jewish, my father had grown up Catholic but had left the church.
As an adult I was curious about whether the Judaism I had learned about was the “real thing,” so I started exploring. I took classes and tried out Jewish groups.
The more I experienced, the more I was drawn to Judaism’s openness to a variety of opinions, its wisdom about everyday life, its connections to social justice, the ways it can help people create communities of meaning and purpose, and more.
Eventually I decided to become a rabbi. I was ordained in 1994 after attending rabbinic school in Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and Cincinnati. I then served as rabbi first at Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, and next at Congregation Shir Shalom of Sonoma in the Bay Area.
Once I became a rabbi, I was amazed at how many people I met would say to me, “I’m Jewish … sort of” or even, “I’m a bad Jew.” I wondered what they meant.
Many of them talked about how they felt both connected to and alienated from Jewishness, and how uncomfortable or even painful this was.
They told me about not believing in God, being bored in synagogue, finding Jewish ritual meaningless, or having negative experiences with Jewish community.
Many of them also talked about how difficult it can be to find a comfortable place in Jewish life if you feel you don't fit -- because you:
Don't know much about Judaism
Are in an interfaith relationship
Are the adult child of an interfaith relationship
Are a person of color
Are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or gender fluid or nonconforming
Or for a variety of other reasons
I could sympathize with these experiences -- I'd had some of them myself. Yet I knew that Jewish tradition is more open and varied than many people realize. When I spoke about this, often people wanted to know more.
I became passionate about serving individuals and families who want to explore Jewishness in an open environment, and find what is meaningful, alive, and real for them in Jewish life.
I discovered that there were few places to learn about Judaism where people felt met "where they are," and where there are no assumptions about their knowledge or identity and they can explore at their own pace.
That's why I founded Jewish Gateways. It has grown and changed quite a bit since then.
I invite you to explore what we offer and consider trying out whatever might interest you. If you're not sure where to start, please contact me, and I'll be glad to chat with you about the possibilities. I welcome your email or your call at 510-545-9977.
Get a taste of Rabbi Bridget's teachings by checking out her High Holiday sermons.