From The Rabbi

Shalom! I'm Eric Woodward, the rabbi here at Tiferet Bet Israel. I'll tell you a little about myself.

I grew up in Los Angeles, California, in an interfaith family. That's an important part of who I am – I want to build deeply inclusive Jewish communities. Growing up, I sometimes felt "less than" because of my parents' relationship – but as I've grown, I've realized that 1) nobody should feel "less than" in our communities, and it's important for me to own my identity and 2) sometimes the parts of our stories that are hard for us, and that can make us feel "less than," are crucial components of our spiritual lives, deserving of care, prayer, and learning.

I studied as an undergrad at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where I became hooked on Jewish text, observance, and spirituality. I eventually was ordained as a rabbi by the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, in 2013, from which I also received an M.A. in Jewish Philosophy.  I loved JTS, a place that embraces the best of Conservative Judaism – a drive to create a Judaism that is both open-minded and spiritually challenging, that pushes us both to learn Torah rigorously and to pray with our full hearts. I also studied at Yeshivat Hadar, an egalitarian yeshiva in New York City. Right out of rabbinical school, I served as assistant rabbi at Congregation Tifereth Israel in Columbus, Ohio, a thriving synagogue in the heart of a great state with some great ice cream. I was lucky to be named by the Jewish Daily Forward as one of America's Most Inspiring Rabbis in 2015. In rabbinical school, I was a Schusterman Rabbinical Fellow, a chaplain intern at Bellevue Hospital (where I completed a 400-hour unit of clinical pastoral education), and a Legacy Heritage Rabbinic Fellow at Shaaray Torah Synagogue of Canton, Ohio.

I think that Judaism provides us with exactly the kind of religion we need in the 21st century – a religion that is pluralistic and serious, a religion that challenges us to be better people and also comforts us when we need help, a religion that integrates our head, heart, and hands, and a religion that talks about God in ways that make sense in the modern world.

I live in Blue Bell with my wife, Katharine, and my two children. I love cooking and eating, I love reading and re-reading, I love talking with people and hearing about their lives. And I would love to learn more about you! Please reach out to me to find a time to talk – the best way is to email me at rabbi@tbibluebell.org.