Sign In Forgot Password

A Message from Rabbi Nicole Luna

אֵי ־מִזֶּה בָאת וְאָנָה תֵלֵכִי

Whence have you come and where are you going?  — Genesis 16:8

This question, posed by an angel to Hagar, speaks to the core of our identity. I believe this is the fundamental question  every rabbi, synagogue and congregant should explore together. It asks us to examine our background, our upbringing, our prior experiences and how we want to shape our lives. In my rabbinate, I work to build a sacred community where people can discover and reveal their true selves, enriched by their diverse life experiences and the intellectual adventure of Jewish wisdom and learning.    

                                                       

My vision of the synagogue is the place to bring our true selves and explore the spiritual dimension of our lives. In my teaching, I seek connections between living tradition and contemporary lives. For example, a Jewish person is considered metzuveh, responsible for fulfilling the covenant between God and the people Israel by doing mitzvot, ritual and ethical actions, according to one’s capacity. As older congregants age or face disability, the Jewish state of being metzuveh reassures them that they are not invisible or irrelevant. Every Jewish person always and forever matters and has a role to play in the community and with God.

 

Nourishing one’s true self both in and out of the synagogue speaks to my inclusive and broad understanding of Jewish community. Having grown up in an interfaith household with a Catholic Hispanic father who later converted to Judaism, I understand the power of a welcoming rabbi and congregation in creating a Jewish family and the complexity and diversity of Jewish journeys. 

In revealing our true selves, we come into relationship not only with each other, but with God. In response to the angel’s prophecy, Hagar names God, the Living One Who Sees Me. (Genesis 16:13-14).  When we create a sacred community that sees each person’s worth, respects our diverse spiritual  paths, and deepens Judaism in our lives, we mirror "God, the Living One Who Sees Us."
 


Rabbi Nicole Luna, a native of Norfolk, Virginia, received her B.A. in Cognitive Science and Jewish Studies from the University of Virginia in 2006. Rabbi Luna received a M.A. in Hebrew Literature in 2010 and ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City in 2011, where she was the recipient of the Bonnie and Daniel Tisch Fellowship, a prestigious fellowship meant to foster future transformational rabbinical leaders. Rabbi Luna served for five years as solo rabbi at Congregation Bayt Shalom in Greenville, NC. During her time in rabbinical school, Rabbi Luna was greatly enriched by her student pulpit at Temple Beth Israel in Altoona, PA, summer rabbinic residency at Temple Israel in Omaha, NE and chaplaincy internship at New York University Langone Medical Center. She also engaged in interfaith work through Auburn Theological Seminary's Center for Multifaith Education. Rabbi Luna is blessed to share her life with her husband Joe Bord and young daughters, Zara Luna-Bord and Iris Luna-Bord.

Contact Rabbi Luna by calling 239-433-0018, extension 205, or email rabbiluna@templebethel.com.

Fri, August 12 2022 15 Av 5782