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Shalom from Rabbi Belford
Shalom! My name is Annie Belford, and I am filled with joy and a sense of deep honor to be joining Temple Sinai in West Houston as your rabbi. I was immediately interested in Temple Sinai because of the way you described your community: warm and inviting, deeply connected to each other as a congregational family, and strongly committed to bringing Jewish values to life for yourselves and your children. These are values that are central to my life, so I knew that Temple Sinai and I would be a good fit. I look forward to sharing many moments of connection and celebration in the years to come.
I am a native Texan (born and raised in El Paso!), and I come to Houston from St. Louis, Missouri, where I have served Congregation Shaare Emeth as an assistant and associate rabbi for the past five years. I was ordained in 2004 at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of Judaism. My husband, Rabbi Ari Vernon, and our two beautiful boys Lev and Eiden, join me in making Houston our new home.
My rabbinate has been defined by bringing Jewish learning to life, allowing tradition to speak to us as modern, liberal Jews, and being fully present to members of my community in times of struggle as well as times of joy. The personal connections I form with people are the heart and soul of why I am a rabbi, for I believe that in these very human connections, we find connection with God. I am truly in love with Judaism and its teachings; I look forward to the struggles our tradition demands, and I rejoice in the ways it uplifts my life. Judaism has the power to move us, change us, and shape our lives—a power that only comes fully alive in a community such as Temple Sinai.
Of course, Judaism also calls us to be actively engaged with the world around us, and it is with great excitement that I join the greater Houston community. The Houston Jewish community has so much to offer, and at Temple Sinai we look forward to deepening those connections. Interfaith dialogue has been a blessing in my rabbinate in St. Louis, and I look forward to continuing those important and holy connections in Houston. Doing the work of tikkun olam, repairing the world, is something that can only be done in partnership—with other faiths and with the larger Jewish community.
As I begin a new relationship with Temple Sinai, I look forward to getting to know all of you – current and future members of this incredible congregation. Please feel free to contact me by phone or e-mail, so we can spend some time sharing our journeys. Together, we can be partners in allowing God’s presence to be felt in our every-day lives. Together, we are a kehillah kedoshah, a holy community. I look forward to making it so.
Rabbi Annie Belford