Rabbi Amy Loewenthal
Rabbi Amy Loewenthal has been the spiritual leader of Congregation Ahavas Achim since July 2012. An alumna of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, she graduated in 2012 with the title of Rabbi, a Master of Arts in Jewish Letters, and a Specialization in Congregational Life. She has served as a Jewish educator, service leader, cantorial associate, and chaplain in a variety of settings both before and during rabbinical school. She served congregations in Washington State, Utah, Ottawa, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania before coming to New Hampshire.
Spiritually curious although she was raised in a secular Jewish home, and a native New Yorker yearning for nature, Amy Loewenthal relocated to Olympia, WA in the early 1980s to finish her undergraduate and graduate education. Finding herself in an area with very few Jews motivated her to begin learning about her heritage. She hopes her example of learning the Hebrew alphabet at the advanced age of 30 shows others the great potential of adult education at any age.
Rabbi Loewenthal came to the rabbinate as a second career, having worked as a math and science educator at the high school and community college level. Her teaching instincts guide her rabbinic work. For example, she prepares for a prayer service by shaping a "lesson plan" to help create a particular atmosphere. When writing a dvar Torah, she strives to bring ancient wisdom to bear on our contemporary concerns. She sees mitzvot as opportunities for greater intentionality, and Jewish holiday cycle and life cycle rituals as communal ways to bring meaning and context to our individual lives.
Arriving for the first time in Israel for a required school year of study, her fascination led to a second full year there, continuing her studies in yeshiva and university, in English and Hebrew, with international students and with native Israelis. A scholarship for merit in Hebrew provided additional support.
She particularly loved visiting Jerusalem's Syrian and Yemenite synagogues to hear their Mizrachi liturgical music as well as a tiny Bratslaver shul noted for ecstatic prayer. These rich experiences shaped her sensibilities about prayer which she leads in diverse styles with passion.
As a Slifka Interfaith Intern, she traveled in Israel and the West Bank documenting and supporting the work of religious peacemakers and co-existence groups. She also worked and studied with groups such as BINA and Beit Tfila Yisraeli, part of the new authentic Israeli expression of non-Orthodox Judaism, with origins in the Kibbutz Movement. She has thousands of photographs and almost as many stories from the Holy Land which she hopes to share.
Rabbi Loewenthal has an insatiable curiosity about hidden intricacies and relationships in the natural world. She loves to explore the region on bicycle or foot. Sharing this source of inspiration, Rabbi Loewenthal initiated the popular Outdoor Shabbat series in which congregants have a meditative Shabbat morning amidst the spectacular beauty of the Monadnock region.
As an eclectic Jew who has participated in traditionally observant communities, Rabbi Loewenthal loves to make diverse cultural and ritual practices accessible to all. To help foster a greater sense of community, she introduced the Friday night Tisch — communal Shabbat dinner — where people shared stories and practiced traditional Friday night rituals. She then supported congregants in bringing Shabbat hospitality into their own homes. Several times a year, congregants host Friday night dinners in their homes, inviting other members of the community, coordinated by the synagogue.
Rabbi Loewenthal takes a regional approach to serving the community, and participates in the Keene Interfaith Clergy, the hospital Pastoral Ministry Association, the New Hampshire Board of Rabbis, and the New England regional and national Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association. She has presented at regional conferences and has taught courses related to Jewish religion and history at Keene State College. Rabbi Loewenthal is happy to meet with people seeking rabbinic counsel or guidance, as well as those who wish to learn more about Congregation Ahavas Achim.
To make an appointment, call (603) 352-6747.
Some of Rabbi Loewenthal's sermons and bulletin articles can be found by clicking HERE.