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Meet Rabbi Eleanor Steinman of Temple Beth Hillel in North Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rabbi Eleanor Steinman.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born in Los Angeles and loved growing up in this vibrant city. When I was in the 6th grade, my dad got a new job that relocated my family to St. Paul, Minnesota. This move was a big shock to all of us, myself, my parents, and my sister. Though St.Paul and Minneapolis are certainly large cities, my parents settled in a small suburb where I was the only Jewish kid in my school. The diversity I knew in school in Los Angeles was suddenly absent.

My family was drawn to what became our second home, our synagogue in St. Paul. It was through my involvement in those religious activities that I began to discern that I wanted to be a rabbi, what some people of faith might refer to as my call. I could see the things that rabbis I knew doing, leading prayer, teaching, counseling people, and making moments holy with Jewish tradition, and thought I would like to have the knowledge to do this as well.

Fast forwarding today, I am beginning my tenth year in the rabbinate. I was ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion where I received my rabbinic ordination and a masters degree in Jewish Education. I work as the Rabbi/Educator at Temple Beth Hillel where I am blessed to do all of those things that I thought I might like to do all those years ago.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Yes, of course. I was very directed and motivated when I was preparing to graduate from college and, I hoped, to begin my rabbinical studies. For a variety of reasons, I was fortunate to be deferred from the seminary. At the time this happened it was completely devastating.

With the blessing of time, I see how much better of a person I am today because of that setback. It was evident that being a rabbi was important to me and I took my seminary’s advice to heart about getting real-life experience before I re-applied for admission.

Those two years of service and work helped me to gain practical social justice experience as I participated in a program called Avodah in New York City and worked as a volunteer coordinator in a city-wide literacy organization.

Please tell us about Temple Beth Hillel.
Temple Beth Hillel is the only reform Jewish synagogue in the east San Fernando Valley. We are known for our phenomenal schools; early childhood, elementary Jewish day school, and a supplementary religious school. We also have programs for all ages and stages of a person’s life and are a community where people care about social justice, equality, and education.

Our members are incredibly kind and truly show up for one another when there is a need. We strive to use the wisdom of Jewish tradition and ritual as a guide to help people make meaning in their lives.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I could tell my younger self anything, it would be to hold onto a spirit of optimism.

When things don’t go the way I’d planned them I wish the path forward could have been easier to see.

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