Rabbi Andrea Goldstein '98
Congregation Shaare Emeth, MO;
Second-Year Student, Interfaith Doctor of Ministry Program
Please tell us about your Jewish journey and your journey to HUC-JIR.
I was ordained from HUC-JIR’s Cincinnati campus in 1998 and began working at Congregation Shaare Emeth in St. Louis. I am now beginning my 23rd year with the congregation. One of the reasons I have stayed at Shaare Emeth as long as I have is their incredible support of my continued learning. They have encouraged me to participate in the Rabbinic Leadership training program through the Institute of Jewish Spirituality, as well as the Institute’s Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training. When I brought up the idea of using my sabbatical time to enroll in the D.Min. Program at HUC-JIR, they were excited for me. Being able to participate in the program remotely (even before the pandemic, this was the only way I could even consider the program) is amazing. Last year, I began my first year of school where all of the students and teachers were on Zoom. To my delighted surprise, Zoom was not a barrier for my cohort to establish close relationships with one another, and my classmates ended up being a great emotional and social support through the pandemic. I am excited to continue this journey with them into our second year.
How did your HUC-JIR education impact your career?
The first time around it led to my job, which I’ve had for the last 23 years. I don’t yet know the full effects of the D.Min. Program on my career, but I will say I am a much better rabbi for having completed just the first year of the program so far. I am able to provide more comfort to my members in more constructive, concrete ways.
What inspired you to return to HUC-JIR to pursue the Interfaith Doctor of Ministry Program?
I’ve been a rabbi a long time, and I feel I am able to provide warmth and comfort to my congregants, but there were moments that I felt like they were yearning to talk about issues that we don’t really talk about much in society, such as the experiences of death and dying, mortality, and how we make meaning of our lives. I didn’t feel competent in my ability to open the door for them to walk through and share these feelings, and I wanted to be part of the D.Min. Program in order to become better grounded in skills that would help me do that.
What is your favorite memory from your time as a rabbinical student?
As a rabbinical student, I had a really good class. There was a great feeling of community among us, so I don’t have one specific favorite memory, but just wonderful feelings about the people I was learning with and from during my five years of rabbinic school. They enriched my experience and made it much deeper, kinder, and happier.
What is it like to study with clergy of other faiths and ethnic backgrounds? How does this enrich the classroom experience and your capacity for interfaith relationship-building in your work?
It definitely enriches the program quite a bit. Understanding concepts like trust, forgiveness, grief, and celebration through the lens of different faiths enriches my own personal practice and helps me bring back new ideas to my own congregation. For example, one of the ministers in our cohort was sharing his church’s ritual welcoming of new babies into his community. It was so beautiful and engaging of all the members that I brought the idea back to my congregation.
How would you describe HUC-JIR in one word?
In terms of the D.Min. Program – rigorous.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I practice yoga, take walks listening to my favorite podcasts, and bake challah. During the pandemic, my 19-year-old began teaching me to play the piano and I like practicing the three songs I learned with him.