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Senior Rabbi Jessica Zimmerman Graf

An innovator with a modern   approach to our timeless tradition.

Rabbi Jessica Zimmerman Graf brings a wealth of experiences to her position as the tenth senior rabbi in the over 165 year long history of Congregation Sherith Israel. Rabbi Graf became a bat mitzvah and was confirmed here.

A graduate of Columbia University, she was ordained by Hebrew Union College in 2003. She has worked in congregations from New York City to Juneau, and is active in several major Jewish organizations.

Though she wanted to be a Rabbi since the age of 15, her path to the rabbinate included some unusual twists and turns. During her junior year in Florence studying art history, she spent time exploring small Jewish communities to learn as much about them as she could. After college, she worked for a professor of astronomy and astrophysics. The job took her to an observatory in the Chilean Andes to count light particles, saying “There I was at the top of a mountain in the Andes taking pictures of the night sky, which I’ve since paired with Jewish texts”.

During her tenure as Director of Congregational Engagement for Synagogue 3000 from 2006-2014, Rabbi Graf was on the cutting edge of synagogue renewal and transformation, working with congregations around the country.

At Sherith Israel, Rabbi Graf served for two years as director of Magalim (circles of Jewish community).  She focused on designing programs to create new dimensions of Jewish practice involving Jews from their 20s through their 40s in learning, prayer, and shared experience. She helped deepen connections among people who are already members of the Sherith Israel community and brought new people into our congregational family. Rabbi Graf always sees the opportunity to “do Jewish” in small-group settings where people can get to know one another and talk about things that matter.

Rabbi Graf was delighted to return to Congregation Sherith Israel, this time as clergy. “It’s a privilege to be here in a place that I care so much about both personally and professionally,” she proclaims. “To have come home to be part of a wonderful team fashioning Judaism for the future of San Francisco is very rewarding.”

Sun, April 21 2024 13 Nisan 5784