Our Rabbi

Creating Community

By Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman
 
A snapshot of one month at Shaarei Shamayim — Celebration: A boy who was relatively new to the congregation became a Bar Mitzvah. Several members who did not know him came to the service. One told me, “I don’t know the family, but he is part of our community, and I wanted to support him at this important moment in his life.” Mourning: A woman’s mother died and a man who was new to the congregation came to her home for a service in her memory even though he did not know the family. “I wanted to make sure there were enough people there to support her,” he said. Companionship: A young woman needed to go to the hospital, and a member volunteered to drive her and sit with her for several hours. She reflected, “I didn’t want this young woman to be there alone.”
 
At Shaarei Shamayim, we value community above all else. Our members don’t just believe that a community should support people in times of joy and in times of sadness. They live out these ideals. They reach out to others – old friends and complete strangers – when there is a need.
 
This is what community is about. Our community is rooted in the quest to transform Judaism into an authentic, compelling way of life and to build a congregation based on the values of inclusivity, intellectual integrity, and creativity. Our task is to create Jewish rituals, study sessions, and community discussions that are meaningful for all ages, relevant, and consistent with our values. We seek to express who we are through our community and infuse it with Jewish practice, culture, and learning. We hope you’ll join us.
 
 

Bio

Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman was ordained in 2003 by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and became Shaarei Shamayim’s second rabbi. In 2015 she published a curriculum for children and teenagers entitled "Reframing Israel: Teaching Kids to Think Critically About the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict."
 
Rabbi Laurie is an ex-officio member of the board of the Jewish Federation of Madison and Jewish Social Services of Madison. She served on the Board of Directors for the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, the professional organization of Reconstructionist rabbis, from 2008-2012 and was the Faith Co-Chair for the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice of South Central Wisconsin from 2006-2008.  In 2006-2007 she completed the PEER Executive Leadership Program through STAR (Synagogues: Transformation And Renewal).
 
While in rabbinical school, she served as a student rabbi in a variety of Reconstructionist and Conservative congregations, interned for Rabbis for Human Rights in Jerusalem and Philadelphia, and worked as an interfaith chaplain in a hospital trauma unit and as a Jewish chaplain at a geriatric center.
 
Rabbi Laurie is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and was a member of Shaarei Shamayim during her years at UW-Madison. While a student she created the congregation's children's education program and taught its first kindergarten class. Shaarei Shamayim was her first introduction to Reconstructionism and played an important role in her decision to become a Reconstructionist rabbi.
 
She and her partner, Rabbi Renee Bauer, have two children.

Getting in Touch

Office: 
Congregation Shaarei Shamayim
900 University Bay Drive
Madison, WI 53705
(608) 257-2944
 
Mailing Address: 
Congregation Shaarei Shamayim 
Madison's Jewish Reconstructionist Community 
P.O. Box 5081
Madison, WI 53705