Rabbi Leah Lewis, Rabbi & Director of Lifelong Learning

The Jaffe Family Rabbinic Chair

Llewis@shmtemple.org

Rabbi Lewis grew up in nearby Riverside.  She developed a strong identification with Judaism at an early age, both from her family’s influence and from a longstanding involvement with Jewish summer camps and youth groups.  She received her undergraduate degrees in Sociology and Religious Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara.   

After graduating from UCSB, Rabbi Lewis spent a year as a Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington D.C., researching various public policy issues from a Jewish perspective and advocating for these issues on behalf of Reform Judaism. 

After spending time in rabbinical school on the Jerusalem, Los Angeles and New York campuses of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and receiving Masters degrees in Jewish Communal Service and Hebrew Letters, Rabbi Lewis was ordained in the spring of 2002.  Along the way, she held positions at the Valley Alliance office of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Union for Reform Judaism’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns.  While at HUC, she also served congregations in Redding, CA, Las Vegas, NV and Scarsdale, NY.  She has also worked at and spent many summers with Jewish youth at a variety of Reform Jewish camps.  Following ordination, she served for seven years at Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, first as the Director of Education and then as Assistant and Associate Rabbi.  From 2009-2011, she served on the faculty at Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School as a teacher, Chair of the Department of Jewish Studies and Dean of Jewish Life. 

In 2014 Rabbi Lewis altered her responsibilities at Shir Ha-Ma'alot from Associate Rabbi to Rabbi & Director of Lifelong Learning. A major component of her responsibilities is to oversee the Education Department. Rabbi Lewis brings more than twelve years of experience as a talented rabbi, educator, teacher and leader. Her first years as a rabbi were spent as a Rabbi/Educator directing a large religious school. As a congregational rabbi at her previous temple, she was active in all aspects of Synagogue life including creative programming for the school and later taught at a Jewish day school. Since being with us at Temple, she has done it all with passion, joy and erudition.

Rabbi Lewis' wealth of experience and contagious love of Judaism inspire the Shir Ha-Ma'alot Education Department as it continues to flourish. She will also continues as an active clergy member and leads lifecycle events and services; inspiring us ain all her roles.