November 21, 2017 /

Temple Beth El

Temple Beth El

Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow

Contact Us: 239-433-0018 | Templebethelinformation@gmail.com

Find Us: 16225 Winkler Road, Fort Myers, FL 33908

Rabbi Nicole Luna

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 daughter, Zara Luna-Bord.

You can reach Rabbi Luna at rabbiluna@templebethel.com and 239-433-0018, ext 205.

 

Personal Statement 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, Sarah’s handmaiden, after she has fled from Sarah into the wilderness, 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 together congregants can discover and reveal their true selves, enriched by their diverse life experiences and the intellectual adventure of Jewish wisdom and learning.

In my rabbinate, the synagogue is the place to bring our true selves and explore the spiritual dimension of our lives. I am also aware that congregants live full and rich lives outside of the synagogue. Part of my role as a rabbi is to show how Jewish wisdom can nourish a congregant beyond synagogue walls and permeate our everyday interactions. 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.

My vision of 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. I honor the life experience a person brings when entering a synagogue, and I have sought out opportunities to learn about other religions to better understand the background of those coming from other faiths.

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.