Washington’s GLBT Jewish Congregation Selects New Rabbi as It Enters New Era
Rabbi Toby Manewith Aims to Bring New Energy and Appeal to Bet Mishpachah
WASHINGTON, D.C. Following a national search and yearlong process, Congregation Bet Mishpachah announces that Rabbi Toby Manewith will become its new Rabbi July 1, succeeding Rabbi Bob Saks, who will retire after 18 years of service. She will be only the third person to serve in this role for Washington’s only egalitarian Jewish congregation, founded 34 years ago by members of the Gay and Lesbian communities.
Bet Mishpachah leaders say Rabbi Manewith will help the Congregation fill two unique needs. First, she is committed to reaching out to those in the community who may not be fully aware of the Congregation, its services and history. Rabbi Manewith has particular experience connecting with younger, unaffiliated Jews.
Rabbi Manewith also exemplifies the Congregation’s strong commitment to social justice which she intends to build upon. She has been a volunteer counselor for people with chemical dependencies and has served on the Youth Advisory Task Force of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
“We are about to begin the observation of Passover-a time when Jews reflect on past challenges and obstacles we overcame. As I prepare to enter this new stage of my religious service, I look forward to helping Bet Mishpachah worship, pray and grow together,” says Rabbi Manewith.
“The congregation is impressed by Rabbi Manewith’s thoughtful, engaging, joyful and unpretentious demeanor,” says Sue Silber, chair of the search committee.
“A survey of the congregation showed very broad appreciation of Rabbi Manewith as a service leader, a teacher and a person in whom congregants would confide or would be comfortable talking with,” says Elke Martin, President of Congregation Bet Mishpachah. “She will be a worthy successor for Rabbi Saks, and we are excited about entering this new phase of our congregational life with Rabbi Manewith.”
Rabbi Manewith is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill. and Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, Ohio, where she received a Masters of Hebrew Letters and Rabbinic Ordination. She has served as Hillel Director in Syracuse, N.Y. and at American University. Since 2005 she has been the Associate Rabbi at Temple Micah in Washington, D.C.
She shares with Bet Mishpachah a diverse background that extends beyond the Reform Movement to her upbringing in a “traditional” synagogue and her previous membership in a Conservative synagogue.
She has been an architect of the outreach of her present congregation to the GLBT community, has been a resource for GLBT youth and their parents, and has performed same-sex weddings.
Rabbi Manewith has been a lecturer for the Smithsonian Resident Associates, the Foundation for Jewish Studies and the Los Angeles Professional Leaders Project.