Viki Bedo was born in Sweden and grew up in Budapest. She converted to Judaism as a teenager, after living with a Jewish family in Seattle for a year as an exchange student. She said that one of the things that drew her in was the intellectual depth of Jewish studies.
“I was blown away and amazed at this constant searching and seeking for truth, through learning Torah and questioning and asking hard questions, not only about our traditions and our texts but about the meaning of life, and the big existential questions that were keeping me awake as a teenager,” Bedo said.
Now Bedo is assistant rabbi at Congregation Olam Tikvah in Fairfax. “My reception here has been great,” she said. “Many of our congregants have been dropping off food at my house. Somebody baked up an amazing babka.”
She said that at Olam Tikvah, the rabbis are part of the community of worshipers.
“On any given Shabbat morning, or on any weekday evening for minyan, you will see all kinds of people leading prayer. So it could be someone who was bar mitzvahed a year ago, or somebody in their 70s, or maybe the rabbi. We are really, really invested in communal leadership and communal participation by everybody, and not just a rabbi.”
Bedo said that until her first visit to a synagogue, “community” was limited to her family and close friends.
“The first time I really saw what synagogue life looked like, I really was stunned, and I was really drawn in to this version of communal life, where it’s not just you and your parents and your siblings, but it’s a whole village. I wanted that for myself, I wanted that for my future children,” Bedo said.
Bedo and her husband, Jonah Fisher, have one son, 11-month-old Lev.
Her decision to go to rabbinical school grew out of her realization that she wanted her professional life to be within a Jewish community.
“I thought in college, ‘Well, maybe I’ll become an academic, so I can learn about Judaism and teach Jewish texts, teach Jewish ideas,’” Bedo said. “And then, I had this realization that as much as I love all things relating to Jewish texts, I didn’t want to spend most of my time in a library. I want to work with people.