Congregation Beth Israel in Scottsdale has hired Rabbi Sara Mason-Barkin to become its new associate rabbi starting on July 1.
“I’m looking forward to being in a community that is vibrant and excited about prayer and learning and all of the things that drive me as a rabbi,” Mason-Barkin said. “I’m excited to jump in and see what people are thirsty for.”
Mason-Barkin was selected from a pool of more than a dozen applicants who submitted their resumes during the six-month search. Beth Israel President Jackie Cohen said she was impressed by Mason-Barkin’s energy and ability to relate to people of all ages. Rabbi Stephen Kahn, head rabbi for Congregation Beth Israel, echoed Cohen’s sentiments.
“Along with members of our staff and committee, I felt at ease when speaking with Rabbi Mason-Barkin, engaged when learning from her and excited when we envisioned her place with us here in Arizona,” Kahn said in a letter to the congregation. “She is, without a doubt, one of the most dynamic rabbis I have had the pleasure to meet during my 23-year career.”
Mason-Barkin is currently the associate rabbi-educator at Peninsula Temple Beth El in San Mateo, California, where she has been since 2013. In that position, her primary responsibility is working with families with young children. In addition to teaching classes for first-time parents, she also helps to run the temple’s middle school.
Mason-Barkin previously served as assistant rabbi and congregational educator at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, California.
“I like to explore what it means to be a Jewish parent today,” Mason-Barkin said. “I try to bring the stuff that we grew up with to life and to make it exciting and relevant as a part of our parenthood journey today. I also teach a women’s Talmud class, and I would love to continue doing that.”
Originally from Buffalo, New York, Mason-Barkin has also lived in Chicago and Boston.
Mason-Barkin received her bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University and her rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, where she also earned master’s degrees in Hebrew letters and Jewish education.
Mason-Barkin will move to Arizona with her husband, Josh, and their children, Charlie and Sela, sometime in mid-June.
“I think that the Jewish community is in a place right now where we’re always worried about stuff,” Mason-Barkin said. “We’re always worried about continuity. We’re always worried about getting kids involved. Congregation Beth Israel is not the kind of place that functions based on a state of anxiety. The congregation is driven by excitement and energy and not what might be holding other communities back.” JN