Rabbi Julie Kozlow describes herself as a bit of a Jewish mother, with her congregation as family.
“Being a rabbi is my greatest passion,” Kozlow said. “I’m not big on politics — it doesn’t interest me. I love taking care of people and I work to love my congregation as if they were a family, which is what I think we’re all striving for in this day and age.”
Temple B’rith Shalom in Prescott will welcome Kozlow as its new full-time spiritual leader later this fall.
“Rabbi Kozlow has an outgoing, bubbly personality that I think will suit us well for the future, and she is so knowledgeable,” said the president of Temple B’rith Shalom, Jim Rubin. “We’ve gone through several rabbis in the past and I think we all felt like she was a real standout for everyone here and we hope to have a long relationship with her.”
Kozlow — who begins her tenure at Temple B’rith Shalom on Nov. 1 — comes from Bnai Israel Congregation in Wilmington, North Carolina, where she served for four years.
She was ordained as a rabbi in 2007 at the Academy for Jewish Religion California in Los Angeles.
Prior to that, she graduated magna cum laude from American Jewish University in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in Judaic studies. In addition, she holds two master’s degrees in rabbinic studies, one from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, and the second from the AJRC.
While she was studying as a full-time rabbinic student, she was also raising her three children by herself.
Apart from being a rabbi, Kozlow said one of her greatest joys in life is being a grandmother. Since most of her family lives in L.A., she felt compelled to find a synagogue that would be closer to them. She felt a connection to Temple B’rith Shalom when she discovered that many of the congregants also had family members in California.
“I think they really understood that I wanted to be close to my family and it really helped build a relationship with them,” Kozlow said. “When I left L.A., I spent many years serving as a rabbi and I ended up on the East Coast. None of my family seems to want to leave L.A., so I’m hoping that Prescott is my last move.”
Kozlow thinks that it is more important now to find a spiritual home than ever before. Her goal, which she says has remained the same since she started studying as a rabbi, is to provide her congregants with purpose for their lives and a supportive community.
She also outlined her dream for her new Jewish community. “We will share these pages of life with each other as a true family, the difficult times as well as the happy times, so that we will be blessed as we walk together, on our way, in mutual love and support.”
Kozlow succeeds Rabbi Holly Cohn, who served the congregation briefly in 2018. Rabbi Jessica Rosenthal served Temple B’rith Shalom from 2013 to -2018. Shortly after Rosenthal left, the congregation formed a rabbinic search committee led by congregation Vice President Trudy Steinhauer.
While the search was going on, the synagogue did not have a full-time rabbi, so members of the congregation filled in to lead services. Rubin said that he was amazed to see that so many of the congregants were so knowledgeable and stepped up to serve and lead while the search continued.
The search committee looked for several different qualities in a new rabbi. Someone who was very knowledgeable of the Torah was important, as was someone who had an outgoing and energetic personality.
“We’re more of a senior community, so we were looking for someone who could do more outreach for us and possibly attract more seniors and possibly a younger demographic as well,” Rubin said. “Our rabbinical search committee felt that Rabbi Kozlow was the ideal candidate for that.”
Kozlow will not be able to attend the upcoming High Holiday services at Temple B’rith Shalom. She did not want to leave Bnai Israel Congregation without a rabbi for that time.
Rubin said he found that commitment admirable and wouldn’t want it any other way. For the time being, Temple B’rith Shalom hired Rabbi Sheldon Moss (formerly of Temple Beth Shalom) to lead the services.
But Kozlow said she cannot wait to get started.
“Being a rabbi is a very sacred and holy endeavor for me, and I cannot wait to serve the beautiful Quad Cities Jewish community with all my heart,” Kozlow said. “Temple B’rith Shalom is my next stop along the way — a new and exciting chapter, and come Nov. 1, the congregation and I will begin it together.” JN