As Temple B’nai Sholom’s sole full-time employee, Rabbi Elizabeth Bahar is an administrator, spiritual leader, teacher, event planner, media spokesperson, and parent. With that many hats, there’s barely room for a kippah, yet she’s also a leader in the wider community. “Welcoming the stranger” sounds easy in principle; it’s a lot more difficult when many in your community dislike, distrust, or want to deport those strangers. In the five years since Rabbi Bahar came to Huntsville, our congregation has become more welcoming to same sex couples, worked with local school systems to implement an anti-bullying initiative, spoken out against Alabama’s anti-immigration law, and helped educate the community about the problem of homeless LGBT teens. I’m co-principal of our community’s all-volunteer religious school, and we struggle to show the kids that words in a book actually have meaning for daily life. Rabbi Bahar is a role model who leads by example and teaches us all-important lessons about the meaning of Judaism and the joy we can find in tikkun olam.
— Larisa Thomason