Rabbi Erica Asch, elected January 29, 2023
Rabbi Erica Asch did not follow a traditional path to becoming a rabbi. The daughter of a mixed marriage – her father is not Jewish – she grew up as one of a handful of Jewish kids in the Navy town of Coronado, California. Being part of such a small minority intensified her sense of Jewish identity, which she cultivated further as a student at Oberlin College. After graduation, she joined Teach For America and taught high school math in the Mississippi Delta, where she discovered her life’s vocation. She realized she wanted to spend her life teaching Judaism rather than algebra.
She enrolled at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati and served pulpits in Greenville, Mississippi, and Ishpeming, Michigan (which has proven good winter training for her rabbinic life in Maine). She was part of the AJWS Rabbinical Student Delegation to El Salvador in 2006 and served as a student representative on the Commission on Social Action of the Union for Reform Judaism. She was ordained in 2008 and then took a position as a community organizer with the Industrial Areas Foundation, the first rabbi to do so directly out of rabbinical school. After three years with IAF, she served at Temple Sinai in Washington, D.C. before moving to Augusta.
Rabbi Asch has served as the rabbi of Temple Beth El in Augusta since June of 2013. Rabbi Asch is active in the community and has most recently been working with the Capital Area New Mainers Project, a group of volunteers who welcomes immigrants and refugees to the Capital Area. She and the congregation have also worked with local school boards to better serve the needs of religious minorities in their schools. Rabbi Asch also works for Center for Small Town Jewish Life. She is on the Commission for Social Action of the Religious Action Center of the Union for Reform Judaism and is President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.
Rabbi Asch guides people to create authentic communities and connections to Jewish tradition. She sees herself not only as a teacher but a lifelong student of Judaism.
Rabbi Asch lives in Hallowell with her husband, Chris Myers Asch, and their children, Miriam, Robin, and Aaron.