A rabbi’s son following in his father’s footsteps is hardly a novel phenomenon. Rabbinic dynasties are perhaps as old as the rabbinate itself. But late last month, a synagogue in Orange County, Calif., put a decidedly modern spin on the old paradigm.
On June 29, Rabbi Stephen Einstein and his daughter Rabbi Rebecca Schorr collectively entered rabbinic history as the first father-daughter duo to lead the same congregation. Schorr was named associate rabbi at Congregation B’nai Tzedek of Fountain Valley, where Einstein has served as senior rabbi since the synagogue opened in 1976.
Schorr is certainly no stranger to the 400-family Reform congregation. Not only did she celebrate her bat mitzvah, confirmation and wedding at the synagogue, but she filled in for her father last year while he was on sabbatical. When the congregation decided it needed a full-time younger rabbi with a background in music and youth programming, Schorr seemed the natural fit.
“I have always been very comfortable being the second-in-command,” said Schorr, who before coming to B’nai Tzedek was director of Jewish education at the Jewish Community Center of Orange County in Irvine. “I like having a seasoned, well-respected rabbi as a mentor — here it just so happens that it’s my dad.” Both rabbis insist that their relationship will be entirely professional when on synagogue grounds. “We always refer to one another by title,” Schorr said.
“I have been guiding and mentoring Rebecca her whole life,” Einstein said. “It’s a transition that every parent goes through as his or her child becomes an adult — how do we establish a different kind of relationship?”
But the elder rabbi quickly added, “She’s 35 years old. We have been working on this for quite a while.”