Temple Beth Tikvah in Bend, Central Oregon’s Reform Jewish synagogue, is excited to announce the appointment of Rabbi Johanna Hershenson as its new rabbi. Rabbi Hershenson is the synagogue’s first resident clergy. "Temple Beth Tikvah is thrilled and excited to have a new Rabbi with the experience, knowledge, leadership, and warm personality of Rabbi Johanna Hershenson moving to Bend to be part of our congregation and community," said Beth Tikvah president, Mark Schindel.
Prior to joining TBT, Rabbi Hershenson served as rabbi at Bejt Simcha in Prague, Czech Republic, Temple Sinai in Wellington, New Zealand, Temple Beth El of South Orange County, California and Congregation Beth Sholom in Anchorage, Alaska. She earned her BA from University of Wisconsin, Madison with distinctions in History, Hebrew and Semitic Languages, and History of Culture. She was ordained by Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in 1995, where she received a Master’s Degree in Hebrew Letters.
In describing her Rabbinate, Rabbi Hershenson comments, “After eighteen years as a rabbi serving congregations literally all over the world, I can personally attest to the fact that Judaism is a living organism that evolves and manifests itself in as many varied and beautiful forms as there are Jewish communities. And yet there are core principles that guide Jews everywhere. They are found nourishing the roots of seemingly diverse traditions and local customs. I look forward to seeing shared rituals and learning come together in the congregation’s footprint locally and in the world. Praying for peace and grappling with the fine print of sacred texts should lead a community to a course of action that promotes justice, loving-kindness, and sustainability.”
Of her move to Bend to serve the Central Oregon community, she said, “I have had the joy of working globally; now I look forward to living and teaching within a single community. I want to get acquainted with each and every member of our congregation. I like knowing people well enough to call on them to share their talents and skills to enrich the community at large. On a personal level, my family loves the outdoors and we are excited to live, work and play in this beautiful area.”
In addition to her clergy work, Rabbi Hershenson has co-produced a documentary film entitled A Torah Tale, which traces parallel journeys of a Torah scroll that survived the Holocaust and the life of the last, living Jew of a Czech town.
Rabbi Hershenson will hold her first Torah study and service on Saturday, July 13th beginning at 9:00 am. Her first Friday Shabbat celebration coincides with the dedication of Beth Tikvah’s new ark on July 26th at 6:30 pm. Services are held at the First United Methodist Church, 680 NW Bond Street in Bend.