Beachcomber Features Rabbi Sarah Rubin

New Leaders Take Helm at Island Congregations

by Paul Rowley
Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber:

Sarah Rubin, the new part-time rabbi of the Havurah, said her fondness of the Pacific Northwest dates back to her childhood. She remembers long summers on Vashon, surrounded by family and friends, and hot days spent at Camp Sealth where she was later a counselor.

“To be in the Jewish community here, it is really an honor,” she said.

Rubin noted that the island resonates with many, often for the same reasons — it’s a wonderful place for children to grow up, with a level of privacy, sense of belonging and way of life that few know anywhere else.

“The Havurah is very much like that: Everybody contributes in whatever way they can, and they know each other very well, support each other and help raise families,” she said. “We’re hoping more [young families] will find their way to the community.”

As a girl, Rubin said her primary education was founded in tradition, but she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in anthropology, minoring in medical sciences. As part of her research, she excavated human remains at archeological sites in Jerusalem and along the Euphrates River in Turkey to understand burial practices and patterns of arthritis in monks.

Rubin’s research and faith collided as questions about the study’s ethics arose and whether concerns about excavating the dead were warranted.

“There was a certain part of the academic community willing to face that question, but also a large part that said, ‘It’s science for the sake of science,’” she said, adding that she was humbled by those considerations and ultimately drawn back into work among the living.

Peter Rubin, a member of the Havurah with no relation to the rabbi, said Rubin’s compassion distinguished her as they conducted a search for a rabbi to lead services.

“There’s a strong foundation of social generosity in Hebrew,” he said. “There is a principle in Hebrew — Tikkun Olam, meaning ‘repairing the world,’ and so we were looking for a rabbi that could connect with the social change and intentions of the Jewish group here,” he said.

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