Qabbalat Shabbat: Friday, 6:00 p.m. Torah Study: Saturday, 9:00-11:00 a.m. Weekday Minyan: 6:15 p.m.

Rabbi Elaine Zecher

Rabbi Elaine Zecher

Senior Rabbi

Rabbi Elaine S. Zecher became Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel of Boston on July 1, 2016. She has served the congregation since 1990 and was the first female rabbi in the history of Temple Israel. She has touched the lives of Temple Israel’s congregants – from the very youngest to our most senior members in many significant and meaningful ways. Rabbi Zecher has been instrumental in adding to the spiritual richness of our congregation. She developed and implemented the Service for the Healing of the Soul. She created the Learner’s Minyan for teaching the fundamentals of the Shabbat Service to adult learners and also “Thank Goodness It’s Shabbat!” to teach our very youngest learners. She initiated Women’s Study Groups and started the Women’s Kallah. Her work reaches beyond the physical boundaries of the synagogue as she has created intergenerational experiences for our young adults and senior members. She has also developed original and innovative worship opportunities at Temple Israel’s High Holiday Services. Rabbi Zecher’s work extends beyond the congregation as she sits on the New England Regional Board of the ADL. She has been instrumental in the development of Mishkah T’filah, the Reform Jewish Movement’s  prayerbook for Shabbat, weekdays and festivals and the new Machzor, Mishkan HaNefesh. She served as Vice President for Leadership of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) and as the Chair of the Machzor Advisory Group. She served on the Board of a new Jewish startup called Tzedek America-a gap year program based in Los Angeles. Presently, she is part of the search committee for the Chief Executive of the CCAR. Rabbi Zecher received a Doctor of Divinity (honoris causa) from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2013 and was ordained from HUC-JIR in 1988. Upon her ordination she became Program Director and Jewish Resource Director at the Striar Jewish Community Center in Stoughton. She grew up in Monroeville, Pennsylvania and is a graduate of Brandeis University. Rabbi Zecher is married to David M. Eisenberg. They have three children: Jacob, Benjamin, and Naomi.

Rabbi Zecher Featured in The Jewish Women's Archive's "Women Rabbis" Collection

The Jewish Women’s Archive is celebrating the women who teach and guide us and has chosen a group of 25 trailblazing rabbis to highlight in the Women Rabbis collection on jwa.org. “Their stories not only illuminate examples of rabbinical leadership but also shed light on universal experiences—the tricky juggling of work and life, the challenge of owning one’s authority, and the unexpected discoveries along one’s professional journey. The overall narrative in Women Rabbis is one of extraordinary perseverance, leadership, and creativity.”

Creating Rituals

While women rabbis have led the charge in blessing experiences that traditionally went unremarked, Elaine Zecher is also delighted by the freedom this has given ordinary Jews to take the lead in creating their own prayers and rituals.

Passing the Torah Scroll

Elaine Zecher remembers a gathering of Jewish women, many of them community leaders, who were moved to tears by the experience of finally participating in a core Jewish ritual.

Responding to the AIDS Crisis

In responding to the AIDS crisis, Elaine Zecher had to reimagine what healing meant.

Integrated Theology

Elaine Zecher explains her holistic approach to Judaism, modeled on integrated medicine, and the power of embracing complexity.

Birth Pangs of Faith

Elaine Zecher redefines “faith” and “religion,” terms that often make people deeply uncomfortable.

Older High Holy Day Sermons

Shabbat Awakenings

weekly e-blast from Rabbi Zecher

Alone

  • Posted by Elaine Zecher
  • On November 16, 2018
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we make our way toward Shabbat. Perhaps it is the ladder, set on the earth ascending, heavenward. Or it might be the angels who move up and down the ladder. The dream is vivid and full of imagery and it all belongs to Jacob. He escaped his […]
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Struggle

  • Posted by Elaine Zecher
  • On November 9, 2018
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings. This week we have arrived to a pregnant Rebecca whose belly holds twins. After finally conceiving, the sons struggled within her. The Hebrew is yitrotzetzu. (Genesis 25:22)  We know that these two in her womb will set the stage for confrontation, deception, strife, and dispute. Jacob and Esau, these little babies […]
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A Broken Heart

  • Posted by Elaine Zecher
  • On November 2, 2018
My heart is in the East and I am at the edge of the West. The philosopher and rabbi, Yehuda Halevi wrote these words in the 12th century as he tried to make his way to the land of Israel. His poetry expressed his longing to be there though he remained away from it. I […]
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Run! Don’t Walk.

  • Posted by Elaine Zecher
  • On October 26, 2018
Run, don’t walk toward kindness. We regard Abraham and Sarah as the first to embrace a faith in God whom they could not see but could experience.  Last week, they upheld the summons from an unfamiliar deity to go forth. The promise that would await them was a great name and blessing, a motivational pull […]
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Your Story

  • Posted by Elaine Zecher
  • On October 19, 2018
As we arrive to this week’s section of the Torah, we move from mythic truths to historic truths overflowing with stories of our ancestors. Last week in our Torah portion, images of Noah, the ark, the animals, and the flood filled our imaginations along with a tower built toward the heavens, though it was not […]
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A Message From Your Clergy

  • Posted by Elaine Zecher
  • On October 12, 2018
To Our Beloved Temple Israel Community, We write amid a moment of civic darkness to acknowledge the raw pain felt broadly and deeply within the hearts of so many within and beyond our community. We will not understate what we are witnessing, as American society risks the approach of what the great philosopher Martin Buber called, […]
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Installation of Rabbi Zecher

Congregational Vote

Video Message from Israel

Marriage Equality Sermon

Rabbi Zecher's Blog

The Seventh Person from the Left

  • Posted by Elaine Zecher
  • On July 5, 2016
In Memory of Elie Wiesel He is the seventh person from the left. All of them are gaunt men, younger and older, staring into the camera. Squeezed onto the planks that are supposed to serve as a place to sleep in the prisoner barracks of the concentration camp. But this iconic picture is a picture […]
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I Am With You

  • Posted by Elaine Zecher
  • On July 1, 2016
As I begin to serve as senior rabbi of Temple Israel of Boston, I want to share with you what I told the congregation on the eve of my selection for this great honor.   Nafshi keshora nafshecha My soul is bound up with yours These words are part of the Joseph narrative Describing the […]
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No Mention of Iran, Congress, or Nuclear Weapons

  • Posted by Elaine Zecher
  • On September 2, 2015
The moon in the sky tonight will be full.  We should be able to see it in its entirety. And just as it waxed to wholeness, it will wane back to a sliver, only to start the cycle again.  But then, it will not only be a new moon.   It will be a new year […]
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Rabbi Zecher blogs from Israel: Strengthen the Core

  • Posted by Elaine Zecher
  • On July 23, 2015
              My trip with AIPAC ended two days ago. But, I am still here in Israel. I chose to spend time with my brother and the rest of his family in Jerusalem. I wanted to settle into a different kind of lifestyle of Israeli living than the one I […]
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Rabbi Zecher blogs from Israel: A Beautiful Paradox

  • Posted by Elaine Zecher
  • On July 16, 2015
            Part of me wishes I could say I have figured it all out.  We have met with members of Knesset, Israeli academics, representatives from the Arab community, and Palestinian leaders and business people. We have traveled intellectually through difficult conversations on rocky terrain trying to understand this complex reality […]
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Rabbi Zecher blogs from Israel: New Puzzle Pieces

  • Posted by Elaine Zecher
  • On July 14, 2015
We landed to the news that the US had reached an agreement with Iran over the extensive negotiations regarding sanctions and its nuclear program. We walked off the plane checking our phones quoting headlines and reactions as we headed toward the passport check area. While some world leaders rejoiced at the long sought resolution, others in Israel were less […]
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Rabbi Zecher blogs from Israel: On My Way

  • Posted by Elaine Zecher
  • On July 13, 2015
I’m traveling to Israel today because AIPAC honored me with an invitation to join 19 other rabbis from Reform and Conservative congregations to explore Israel from multiple vantage points.  We will be meeting with Knesset members, activists on the West Bank, Arab and Palestinian leaders, religious and secular Jews, Muslims, and Christians.  They all reflect […]
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