Shoafim: Tefila on the Mirpeset (porch)
It was a warm, humid, misty morning overlooking the agam (lake) from the mirpeset (porch), where our chanichim (campers) in Shoafim had their Tefila (prayers).
The chanichim were treated to a D’var Torah by Rabbi Claudia Kreiman, on our Tzevet Limud (Education staff) this week. She had the chanichim do an exercise — singing a song together as a kehilla (community), and then each chanich singing it in their own mind. She asked for reactions to this — which one was better? The chanichim had many interesting responses to this question — some strongly preferred singing the song as a kehilla, while others preferred the quiet, individual version. Rabbi Kreiman extrapolated from this exercise to our practice of tefilla; sometimes, we join together in communal singing, while at other times we each have our own individual prayer. Each is valid and serves its own purpose at different times. She told the story of the Baal Shem Tov recognizing that the tefilla offered by the man who only knew how to blow a flute was just as valid as the kehilla’s singing of the traditional liturgy, even (especially?) on the most solemn & holy day in the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur.
Rabbi Claudia Kreiman is the rabbi at Temple Beth Zion, and has been with our community since 2007.
Rav Claudia grew up in Santiago, Chile, where her father, Rabbi Angel Kreiman-Brill was the Chief Rabbi of Chile. Her experience growing up under the repression of the Chilean dictatorship inspired her work for social justice from a young age. Rav Claudia’s involvement at Camp Ramah in Chile was also pivotal to her early development of self. Post-high school, Rav Claudia moved to Argentina with her family.
In Argentina, Rav Claudia began to engage deeply with Judaism, both as a learner and as a teacher. She studied at the Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano, and taught in different synagogues and schools in the Jewish Community, including the Bet-El synagogue, founded by her parent’s teacher Rabbi Marshal Meyer and where her parents were actively involved. In 1994, Rav Claudia’s mother, Susy Wolynski Kreiman, was killed in the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) bombing in Buenos Aires, along with 84 other victims. The death of Rav Claudia’s mother in the attack was one of the most traumatic and shocking experiences of her life. Her mother, Susy was a committed teacher and social work, and inspired Rav Claudia to honor her legacy by committing herself to Jewish education.
Rav Claudia moved to Israel in 1996. There, she finished her undergraduate degree at Haifa University, where she majored in Bible and Jewish Thought. She continued her education in Israel, pursuing a Masters at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. After several of years of study, Rav Claudia decided to make aliyah, and transferred to the Rabbinical School. Rav Claudia received smicha (Rabbinic Ordination) from the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in 2002.
Following rabbinical school, Rav Claudia became the first rabbi of NOAM, the youth movement of the Masorti movement in Israel. This position let Rav Claudia combine her passion for youth engagement and Jewish education, shaping the next generation of leaders of the Masorti Movement through year-long programs and Jewish summer camp.
As a recently ordained rabbi, Rav Claudia became the Israeli Rabbinic Fellowship from B’nai Jeshurun in New York City, which took her to NYC for one month every year for three years to learn from her teachers Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein and Rabbi Roly Matalon, and to engage in intensive study and pray-leading at B’nai Jeshurun. Rav Claudia was also a Rikma Fellow, working to breathe new fire into Jewish life in Israel by building original communities and strengthening existing ones through training and support of leadership. In addition, she helped to build Hokhmat Halev, a spiritual community for secular Israelis in Ramat Hasharon, Israel.
When she moved to the U.S, Rav Claudia became the director of the Jewish Studies program at the Jewish Community Day School in Watertown. While at JCDS, Rav Claudia radically changed the experience of prayer for students, invigorating the prayer experience and bringing ruach to the davening, crafting inspiring holiday and Shabbat programs, and helping teachers to enliven the teaching of Torah throughout the school.
Rav Claudia’s commitment to Jewish education has shaped her time at TBZ, where she has worked to fulfill the need for family and children’s programming, creating TBZ’s dynamic Beit Rabban School and Mishpachot program. Rav Claudia is deeply invested in growing the social justice involvement at TBZ through the Tikkun Olam Group, GBIO (Greater Boston Interfaith Organization), and engaging community members in meaningful experiences of prayer. She has energized TBZ’s prayer through the addition of song and music, drawing members and visitors alike to Jewish prayer.
Rav Claudia was a faculty member of The Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel. She served as President of the New England Rabbinical Assembly from 2012-2014, and was a 2015 Chai in the Hub honoree for her work in the Boston Jewish Community. She is a member of the JStreet Rabbinic Cabinet, of the Brookline Clergy Association, and is involved with Truah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, and is one of the “tomato rabbis”, engendering the call for fair wages and safe working conditions for all people, including farmworkers.
Rav Claudia is married to Rabbi Ebn Leader, who is on the faculty of the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College. They have two daughters, Alma and Ariel.