How to Make a Soul: Living the Jewish Story

It is human to tell stories. Judaism ties these stories to the physical world through the transformational process of ritual. Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein presents a model of Jewish education in which rituals serve to bind us both to our individual memories and the collective memory of our people. Drawing from the stories of Sarah and Avraham, as well as contemporary academic scholarship on ritual, Rabbi Epstein explains how we might bring ritual observance into our everyday lives in a way that has the power to truly forge our souls.

Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein is the Executive Director of the 14th Street Y in Manhattan. Born in the Bronx and raised in New Milford, Connecticut, Shira received her BA from Wesleyan University and has also attended Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Birzeit University in Ramallah, and is currently studying as a part of the Shalom Hartman Institute Rabbinic Leadership Initiative. Rabbi Epstein received her rabbinic ordination and MA in Religious Education from HUC-JIR. Prior to the Y, Shira worked to redefine Jewish educational engagement and community as Associate Rabbi and Director of Youth and Family Education at Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Shira has served various Reform Congregations, Jewish youth groups and summer camps as an educator, is a certified Storahtelling "Maven," and has studied improvisational comedy and acting in various programs including the Upright Citizens Brigade. Shira was named one of the Feminist Press 40 Under 40 and is an inaugural recipient of the Pomegranate Prize for Jewish Education from the Covenant Foundation. Shira lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her husband, Dr. Jason Epstein, their sons Amichai and Kobi, and their dog, Duffy.

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