Holding the pulpit at Congregation Emanu-El Israel may be an early stop for Rabbi Stacy Petersohn, but the California native seems poised to succeed. Having arrived in Greensburg by way of the West Coast, Petersohn is enthused to begin her rabbinic tenure at the Western Pennsylvania Reform congregation.
“The thing that excites me most about this opportunity is that it is my first position after being ordained, and I’m excited to have that experience in a community that has already shown itself to be very welcoming,” said the newly minted spiritual leader.
“We are so pleased to have her,” said Irene Rothschild, immediate past president of Emanu-El Israel.
Petersohn’s desire to relocate from Fremont, Calif., to Greensburg “shows her flexibility and willingness to reach out and try new things, so we like that.”
Other aspects were equally appealing, added Rothschild.
“She’s young, she’s just recently ordained, she is flexible, she does interfaith marriages, we just all around think that it’s a good fit for us.”
As for how young the avid board game playing spiritual leader is, Petersohn elected not to share the information. Conversely, she was happy to report that on May 14, after six years of study at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion-Los Angeles, she received semicha. Couple that with a Master of Arts in Jewish education, also from HUC-JIR, and an undergraduate degree in performing arts and social justice from the University of San Francisco, and the young mastermind is well equipped to handle potential puzzles ahead.
“The biggest challenge right now is just meeting everyone and getting to know a little bit of their story,” she said, “but I’m excited to learn more about the community and the individuals I am serving.”
On the flip side, Petersohn’s congregants are eager to discover more about their new spiritual leader.
“She just came to Greensburg last week, and we’re really excited; tomorrow will be her first Shabbat,” said Rothschild.
With pleasant findings sure to unfold as both parties soon break the ice, Petersohn shared a few of her interests with the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle.
“I am an avid reader, I even have an actual physical book in my purse as we speak,” she said.
She also relishes opportunities to watch theater and musicals.
Perhaps strategically, Petersohn lastly noted that she was “part of a group of rabbinic students who would get together once a week to play board games and card games.”
Of the many games that the soon-to-be spiritual leaders played, the two that stood out were Dixit and Pandemic.
Reason being, said Petersohn, is that “you have to know the people you are playing with really well to be successful at those games.”
Though running the risk of hubris, Petersohn reluctantly admitted that she is “pretty good” at the storytelling and cooperative card activities.
Thus may be a clue as to the connections between board games and rabbinics.
Said Petersohn, “They are definitely about building relationships.” PJC
Adam Reinherz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.