Adina Shmidman on the Various Roles of the Rabbi’s Wife 

Recently, a congregant asked me to speak to her daughter, who was planning to become a Rebbetzin, to give her some words of encouragement and advice. I immediately agreed and offered heartfelt congratulations and sincere wishes for all to go well. But, knowing how difficult the role can be, I had to give some serious thought as to what I would say to the new Rebbetzin.

Adina Shmidman serves as the Rebbetzin of the Lower Merion Synagogue in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.

Being a Rebbetzin can be a great deal of work. Responsibilities often range from hosting meals to visiting sick congregants to supporting families through challenging times and reaching out to the unaffiliated. And there is the added challenge of juggling one’s home, family, and jobs.

The flip-side is the reward—not just the heavenly payback, but the earthly satisfaction. Forging deep, meaningful bonds with your congregation and knowing that you are changing Jewish life in your small corner of the world is incredibly gratifying.

So when I met with this young woman my first message to her was to embrace the position. I explained that the scope of the position—including adult and youth programming of all kinds, public and private Torah classes, and hosting guests and congregants—may seem overwhelming at first.

But I reassured her that just as in a new marriage there is an adjustment period where one gets to know her new spouse, here, too, the union of the rabbinic couple and shul is a relationship that develops in time. While there are many demands and responsibilities, you have the opportunity to use your unique talents and strengths to contribute to the spirit of the shul and the community.

Her first question was about managing her communal responsibilities while holding another job. Read the rest of this entry…

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