Sarah Krinsky did not expect to become a rabbi.
Yet, at 27, she is a newly ordained rabbi, and as of July 1, the assistant rabbi at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington.
“I really wanted a career in which I would be making a difference in my community and outside,” she said in a recent interview.
It was at her first job after graduating from Yale University in 2012 with a degree in Near Eastern languages and civilizations that Krinsky chose a career path. She was working as a legislative assistant with the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington.
“I was able to appreciate the ways rabbis and Jewish communities have an impact on improving the world,” she said.
Rabbis and Jewish leaders, she said, “have the opportunity to be change-makers in their own communities” as they bring out “the values that Judaism asks us to aspire to.” That then flows beyond the congregation and into the world at large.
While studying at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Krinsky was a rabbinic fellow at B’nai Jeshurun, which defines itself as a “nonaffiliated Jewish synagogue community” in New York City. There Krinsky found that she enjoys not only social justice and community work, but also the many facets of congregational work, from leading Torah study to mentoring people converting to Judaism.
Raised in a Reform Jewish home in Los Angeles, she is a descendant of 10 generations of Polish rabbis in her father’s family — her paternal grandfather was a rabbi, though her father is not. “I think the piece about my family history is definitely relevant. It is something that lives in my family consciousness.”
Participating in Hillel at college, she found that “the egalitarian niche of Conservative Judaism spoke to me.” That experience has offered a familiar face at Adas Israel, where Lauren Holtzblatt is a co-senior rabbi: Holtzblatt was the associate rabbi at Yale’s Hillel.
Beyond the congregation and its leaders, among what Krinsky found compelling about Adas Israel is “It was a holistically integrated place in terms of Jewish living — education, social action, ritual life, learning, prayer — they exist together and they inform one another. The things that we pray for in shul are the things that we want for the community.”
Teaching will be among her roles there.
“I’m coordinating the Introduction to Judaism class and conversion program,” she said. She’ll also teach high schoolers. “My overarching goal is for them to leave thinking that Judaism has something to contribute to their life … [thinking] ‘when something is happening to me, whether it’s big or small, or religious or not, that my Jewish experience has something to say about that.’”
Krinsky and her husband, Rabbi Daniel Novick, assistant director of Hillel at the George Washington University, live in Washington. She’s a vegetarian, always ready to try new recipes, enjoys reading novels and hiking.
Ricki Gerger, president of the Conservative synagogue, said Krinsky was the top choice in every way as Adas Israel sought to fill the assistant rabbi position.
“It’s as though she was meant to be with us,” said Gerger.