Rabbi Adam Wright will be arriving with his wife, Dr. Rachel Wright, and daughter Lillian in June 2019. He will officially start as our new rabbi on July 1, 2019.
RESUME OF: Rabbi Adam M. Wright, M.T.S., M.A.J.E.
PROFESSIONAL RABBINIC EXPERIENCE: Temple Solel, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California Associate Rabbi July 1, 2016 – present Assistant Rabbi July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2016
Temple Solel is a vibrant 700-family congregation in San Diego with a dynamic senior leadership team of a Senior Rabbi, Cantor, Educator, Temple Administrator, Program Director, Youth Director, CFO, and ECC Director. The Associate Rabbi position has afforded me the opportunity to re-design and create a wide array of engaging programs, and in-depth learning that impacts all spheres of congregational life.
MAJOR RABBINIC RESPONSIBILITIES:
Serve as a spiritual leader to a large, engaging, and compassionate multi-generational community in coordination with Senior Rabbi, and Cantor.
Assume all rabbinic leadership and pastoral responsibilities while Senior Rabbi is on annual sabbaticals, vacations, Hartman Institute in Israel, and other extended absences.
Rabbinic duties include all aspects of the Avodah (Worship) experience – planning and leading Shabbat Services, b’nei Mitzvah, High Holy Day Services, other holiday services, and presenting weekly d’vrei torah.
Create meaningful and transformative lifecycle events for members: funerals, weddings, brit milot, baby namings, b’nei mitzvah, bikkur cholim (hospital visitation), and conversions.
Serve as a passionate educator in our Religious School, Adult Education Program, and Early Childhood Center.
Prominent leadership roles in fundraising and development campaigns.
Serve as staff liaison with oversight for numerous committees.
MAJOR RABBINIC ACHIEVEMENTS: Youth and Religious School Education:
Hartman Leadership Program
Created the Hartman Leadership Program, a two-year post-confirmation program for eleventh and twelfth grade students. Over fifty students enrolled since its inception. Students discuss contemporary issues that they will experience in college, specifically: Israel and Jewish life on campus, Ethics, Choosing a Major, ROTC, Money Management and Credit Building, Social Action, and Citizenship.
Students travel on two major trips: A Civil Rights trip to Atlanta, Selma, Birmingham, and Montgomery; The Reform Action Center’s L’Taken in Washington, D.C. and/or a second Civil Rights trip to Memphis, and Little Rock.
Successfully fundraised $20,000 to help subsidize the cost of the program.
Seventh Grade Program
Redesigned the program to focus on lifecycles: Death and Dying, Marriage, Brit Milah and Baby Naming, Addiction, Conversion, and the Holocaust.
Created three major field trips to foster a strong community: Skirball Cultural Center, the Museum of Tolerance, and the San Diego Jewish Museum.
Interviewed over twenty stakeholders: past seventh grade families and students, future seventh grade families and students, teachers, and the Religious School Director. After gleaning the results from interviews, we launched the redesigned program. The program’s immediate success has resulted in increased enrollment from seven to twenty-three students enrolled in the eighth-grade pre-confirmation program. This is a key population to keep involved post b’nei mitzvah, as often families resign their membership after the last b’nei mitzvah.
Fifth – Tenth Grade Religious School Retreat o Redesigned a dated program based on feedback from parents, teen leaders, and
students that models a Jewish summer camp experience.
B’nei Mitzvah Program o Created an enhanced family b’nei mitzvah program to foster a personal connection
between the family and rabbi. Beyond the traditional preparation, we discuss
passions, hobbies, and secular interests. o Created the D’var Torah Experience – a template that teaches b’nei mitzvah students
how to write a meaningful d’var torah.
Adult Education/Community Lectures: As a rabbi with strong academic interests, I designed and taught a series of adult education courses for the more advanced learner.
Adult Lecture Series at Temple Solel
“New Testament/Jew Testament.” The focus of this three-lecture series highlighted
the Jewish elements in the New Testament narrative.
“Judaism in the Nineteenth Century: A Period for Change, Courage, and Citizenship.”
“Jewish History: From the Ancient Near East to the Present.” In seven lectures, we discussed the events, personalities, and trends in Jewish history.
“The Book of Samuel: The Complexities of Government, Relationships, and the Human Condition.” Twelve classes introduced students to how the Book of Samuel addressed government, relationships, and the complexities of life.
San Diego Center for Jewish Culture Lecture Series, January 22-24, 2018 o “Models of Jesus’ Jewishness.”
Templo La Hermosa Church/Stand With Us, September 10, 2017
“Isaiah 62: For the Love of Zion.”
San Diego Jewish Community Center Tapestry Lecture, January 7, 2017 o “Wrestling with Jewish Identity and with Jewish Expression: A Nineteenth Century
Sisters in Scriptures Guest Lecturer, LDS Church, 2014-2017 o “The Book of Daniel: Israel’s Narrative for God’s Redemption.” o “Passover: A Conversation about Historical Empathy.”
“The High Holy Days: Reflection, Introspection, and Perspective.”
Union for Reform Judaism, Introduction to Judaism, 2014-2016 o Expanded the URJ’s Introduction to Judaism curriculum by creating and teaching
seventeen insightful classes.
Solel Serves o Created a monthly social action program to provide sixty meals and companionship
to the residents of Haven House, a homeless shelter in Escondido, CA. Each month,
twenty volunteers prepare meals in the Temple Solel kitchen.
Stars and Stripes: As the staff liaison for this committee that supports veterans, I am highly involved in the implementation for the following programs:
Stand Down at Veterans Village of San Diego is a three-day period in downtown San Diego where we provide comprehensive services to homeless veterans. We conduct a clothing drive, sponsor a tent that holds beds for veterans, and send volunteers to provide the necessary services for our veterans annually.
School Supplies Program: Seek donations for school supplies for Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
Annual Speaker Series: We invited the following speakers to support veterans in San Diego: Marthe Cohn, a Jewish spy during World War II. Sassy Reuven, an Israeli paratrooper during Operation Thunderbolt at Entebbe in 1976. Dr. Edith Edgar, known as the “Ballerina of Auschwitz.”
o Designed and implemented a single/family membership for adults under the age of 36. New members under the age of 36
contribute $36 annually toward membership. Thirty units have joined Temple Solel through the $36/36 program since
December 2016 helping us build a strong young adult cohort.
Israel Action and Advocacy: o Created Israel Matters, a monthly newsletter that highlights the fascinating news in Israel today not available in traditional
media. o Petitioned the Board of Trustees to include Temple Solel’s support for Israel in our synagogue mission statement. The board
o Revived Temple Solel’s Brotherhood to keep men connected to the Temple Solel community who would otherwise be uninvolved. o At the BBQ kickoff event, over 50 men participated as we explored Jewish values, a sense of belonging, and connection to the
Rabbinic Intern, Temple Judea, Tarzana, CA Temple Judea is a cutting edge 1,000-family congregation in Los Angeles that has redesigned approaches to member engagement. As a rabbinic intern, I participated in all aspects of congregational life, under the tutelage of the senior staff. July 2013 – June 2014
Delivered d’vrei Torah for Shabbat and High Holy Day services. Worked closely with the Senior Rabbi to master this important skill as part of the worship experience.
Created a curriculum for the seventh grade b’nei mitzvah program called “Nosh and Drash.” Students read their d’vrei Torah, chanted their first aliyah, and taught their parsha to their class a week before Bar/Bat Mitzvah. The program allowed students to gain familiarity chanting from the Torah in front of a group.
Taught a ten-part lecture series on Jewish history.
Attended weekly clergy meetings that helped me to understand the importance of professional teamwork and flow of assignments in congregational planning.
Worked with Senior Staff to plan Shabbat services and lifelong learning programs.
Scholar-in-Residence, Congregation B’nai Tzedek, Fountain Valley, CA January 11, 2014
Presented a lecture entitled “American Judaism—A Lay-Led Movement Since 1654.”
Jewish Chaplain Intern, Cedars-Sinai Hospital, Los Angeles, CA June 2013 – December 2013
Provided pastoral counseling to patients of all faiths in a wide variety of settings including crisis/code-blue, Intensive Care Units, geriatric, pediatric, neurology, and cardiology floors
Participated in weekly clergy meetings and daily interdisciplinary rounds on hospital wards.
Teaching Assistant, University of Southern California Louchheim School for Judaic Studies Los Angeles, CA August 2012 – December 2013
JS 100: Introduction to Jewish History, JS 258: Food, Faith and Conflict.
Delivered lectures (including “The Origins of Israel and the United Monarchy.” “The Revolt against Rome and the Hellenistic Diaspora.” “Jews in the Americas.” “Eastern Europe in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries.” “Jewish Dietary Law and Identity.”)
Taught weekly discussion sections.
Education Intern, Kehillat Israel Reconstructionist Synagogue, Pacific Palisades, CA September 2011 – May 2012
Summer Resident, Congregation B’nai Tzedek, Fountain Valley, CA June 2010 – August 2010
Student Rabbi for Hillel, Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA September 2009 – May 2011
Student Rabbi, Congregation BaMidbar Shel Ma’aleh, Victorville, CA August 2009 – May 2010
Conducted Shabbat services each week with clergy; delivered d’vrei Torah.
Conducted life cycle events, and provided pastoral and grief counseling for congregants.
Participated in senior staff meetings, board meetings and assisted Senior Rabbi with life cycle events, pastoral care meetings, interfaith meetings, and various non-profit meetings.
Taught a four-week course entitled “Judaisms” of the First Century.
Supervised teachers and developed curricula.
2014 Rabbinical Ordination, Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, Jack H. Skirball Campus, Los Angeles, CA. Thesis: “Marriage Law in Antiquity: A Contemporary Translation and Commentary: Ketubot 46B – 76A”
Director: Rabbi Dvora E. Weisberg, PhD
2012Master of Arts in Jewish Education, Rhea Hirsch School of Education, HUC-JIR, Jack H. Skirball Campus,
Los Angeles, CA.
Curriculum Guide, “Models of Jewish Expression and Identity in the New Testament Narrative”
2012 Graduate Certificate in Jewish Non-Profit Management, Zelikow School of Jewish NonProfit Management, HUC-JIR, Jack H. Skirball Campus, Los Angeles, CA.
2011 Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters, HUC-JIR, Jack H. Skirball Campus, Los Angeles, CA.
2007 Master of Theological Studies, Vanderbilt University Divinity School, Nashville, TN.
Area of Study: Ancient Near East and Early Judaism
2005 Post-Baccalaureate Study, Oakland University, Rochester, MI.
German and Arabic Studies
2004 Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, Wheaton College, Norton, MA.
Major in Religion with a minor in Jewish Studies
Department Honors Thesis: “The Rabbinic Aspects of Jesus in the New Testament”
Director: Rabbi Jonathan D. Brumberg-Kraus, PhD
2003 Brown University, Providence, RI. Hebrew and Judaic Studies Program
AWARDS AND DISTINCTIONS:
Hebrew Union College:
The Ruby and Gerald Bubis Scholarship, 2011-2013
The Samson H. Levey Prize for Outstanding Student in Rabbinic Literature, 2013-2014.
Vanderbilt University Divinity School:
Nella May Overby Memorial Award, 2007.
Dean’s Recognition of Academic Achievement, February 2007.
Merit Scholarship, 2005-2007.
The Helen and Irma Wieand Fellowship, May 2004.
Institutional and Departmental Honors, May 2004.
The J. Arthur Martin Prize in Religion, May 2004.
Wheaton Scholar Athlete, 2002-04.
Stand with Us San Diego, Advisory Committee Member, 2017-2019.
Israel Steering Committee Member, San Diego Jewish Federation, 2015-2016.
Next Generation Steering Committee Member, San Diego Jewish Federation, 2015-2016.
Palomar College Department of Religious Studies, Advisory Committee Member, 2016-2017.
Member of Central Conference of American Rabbis, Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis, and San Diego Rabbinic Association.
References available upon request
Personal Statement Rabbi Adam M. Wright
Blankness. For the past few months, I spent countless hours staring at a blank word document trying to write the perfect rabbinical personal statement. I wanted this personal statement to articulate perfectly my vision for the rabbinate. I wanted the perfect introduction, the perfect metaphors, and the perfect text from our sacred literature, supported by the perfect rabbinic commentary. However, the only thing that was perfectly certain these past few months was the blankness of the word document.
Suddenly, I realized why I could not strike one letter on the keyboard. Perfection is the antithesis of Judaism; it is the complete opposite. Judaism is not interested in the perfect sermon, lecture, program, the perfect mezuzah, or the perfect artwork. As Maimonides taught, “To seek perfection, in property or health or character, is not a worthy goal; nor it is a proper cause of pride and glory for humanity.”
Therefore, in Judaism and especially my vision for the rabbinate, all that matters is taking the imperfect – our imperfect selves, our imperfect communities, and our imperfect world and striving to make our imperfections better. We better our imperfect selves by creating genuine communities with lasting sacred relationships. We better our imperfect selves through our elevation in Torah, prayer, God, and connection to Israel. We better our imperfect world through our acts of righteousness, social action, and loving-kindness.
It is certainly part of the human condition and my rabbinate to strive for perfection. However, striving for perfection can be both an asset and a liability. When my tenure at Temple Solel began, my quest and need for excellence demanded the pursuit of perfection in all aspects of the rabbinate. I thought that if I did not hold on for the need to create the highest worship/tefilah experience, an adult education class, a social action or youth program, then Temple Solel would not have the perfection and excellence that is needed both to maintain our members and to attract new members, especially in these uncertain times regarding congregational affiliation.
I quickly learned in my rabbinate that American Jews have many choices of how they connect or do not connect with today’s Jewish community. The historic and traditional needs and reasons for congregational affiliation have now dissipated. This unfortunate reality tells us our members will be challenged to make active and thoughtful choices about their reasons to stay connected with a synagogue. When unaffiliated spiritual seekers make that active leap of faith to join a congregation, they must find real meaning and value for their respective time, passions, commitments, and fiscal resources. They may leave without feeling any kedusha – holiness. If they leave feeling uninspired and not intellectually challenged, sadly, they may not return. Rabbis must believe that one of their sacred roles is to leave indelible marks on those who enter the synagogue. Rabbis are obligated to enrich the lives of those who are part of their synagogue community – members, the lay leadership, and all staff.
Consequently, when the synagogue does not enhance spirituality or does not inspire its members to study the richness of our sacred Jewish literature, we just not miss the mark, we add to the high non-affiliation rate. When the synagogue does not embrace the importance for travel-based/alternative youth education and the need for the teen bonding experience, we may prevent our teens from participating in NFTY, Hillel or other critical connections during these crucial and formative years. When the synagogue continues to have the same lackluster social action initiatives, we not only fail to improve our community, but we also fail to meet one of the core values of Reform Judaism.
This is where I learned to pivot because I listened and I heard; and, now with humility, I am responding to their disappointments. I feel I have a rabbinic obligation to those who have left the congregation because we did not truly listen and respond appropriately to their realistic needs. I know at times my congregation was stagnant and unresponsive. Now, it is time to respond. And, I am responding!
Over the past few years I learned how not to be defensive about these imperfections while setting a high bar of excellence for the future. For me, a rabbi is a leader. A rabbi is partner. A rabbi is present, always listening. A rabbi is open to new ideas and approaches. A rabbi endeavors to inspire those who enter our halls to pray, to play mahjong with friends, for the bat mitzvah student who wants to understand her parasha in the context of the rapidly changing world in which she lives, or the maintenance worker whose importance goes beyond cleaning and setting up rooms or onegs, who serves as the greeter and friend to so many who enter the building to find a sense of holiness. As a rabbi, I have learned a great deal at Temple Solel; and yet, I know that I must continue to master new skills that are essential for today’s rabbinic leadership.
I have learned some guiding lessons about congregational life that were not taught in rabbinical school. Rather, they were taught by congregational realities. My Senior Rabbi is my mentor. He has led Temple Solel for almost thirty years and will be retiring next June. While most assistant/associate rabbis maintain a traditional and very structured narrow portfolio, he has treated me as a rabbinic equal and as a partner in all realms of the rabbinate. He has given me full support to create any program, officiate at any event, lead any service, teach any class, and engage with our members in the highest levels of fundraising and development. During his tenure at Temple Solel, he created a strong foundation and built an amazing community deeply rooted in Jewish tradition, social action, and learning.
My Senior Rabbi’s leadership style was for me to be viewed as part of the clergy team from the onset. He wanted me to learn, to experiment, to partner, to fundraise, and to push the rabbinic leadership boundaries in so many areas of our congregation. Since my tenure at Temple Solel began, my Senior Rabbi has challenged and charged me to improve Temple Solel’s imperfections.
I created an eleventh and twelfth grade cutting edge leadership program post confirmation that has been embraced by our students, their families, and other congregations. I successfully fundraised to cover the cost of this program so that fifty plus teens could travel on a lifechanging Civil Rights Trip in December. The lessons that we learned from the success of this program mandated us to redesign all of our teen programing, from seventh grade to tenth grade, where we now see a significant increase in enrollment and especially in student connections. Our teens love coming to Temple Solel – not just for traditional youth programming but also for learning.
I revamped four core programs – our B’nei Mitzvah program, Brotherhood, our Israel and Social Action Committees. These programs and committees are now operating with new successful models that increase engagement and participation. The Board enthusiastically embraced my idea to create a $36 membership for individuals/families under the age of thirty-six. They understood the importance of building a cohesive young adult cohort for Temple Solel’s future.
My tenure at Temple Solel has taught me that our congregation like so many other congregations has imperfections. We have learned to acknowledge them without being defensive or negative. We have learned that successful and relevant congregations, rabbis and lay leaders learn how to adapt, to pivot, and to create Jewish meaning and memories, wherever there are imperfections. This is how we do our sacred work. This is how we hold ourselves to the highest standards of rethinking and living Jewishly in today’s rapidly changing world.
I am thankful for the lessons learned at Temple Solel and I am now very excited about new lessons that I will learn in my next congregation. I look forward to partnering, to learning, to creating Jewish memories, and to tackling our imperfections together. I would be honored to be your next rabbi.