Since the formation of the Little Minyan in 2006, Jessica K. Shimberg has served as a grassroots organizer and leader of our kehilla/community. Jessica’s passion for Judaism and her ability to make Judaism come alive for people of varying interests, orientations, styles of learning, and ages, makes her a natural leader of the spiritual life that courses through our congregational, family, and individual lives.
Her interests and service of our community led Jessica to enroll in a training program for worship and congregational leaders (DLTI – Davenen Leadership Training Institute) in 2010. This immersive experience allowed her to hear her calling, one she did not heed earlier in life, yet which continued to influence her relationship with Judaism over the decades. Jessica committed to this work in 2011, joining the ALEPH Ordination Program, to grow into the role of rabbi she was already beginning to serve. The children of our community and many of their parents call her “rabbi Jessica,” a title we bestow upon her with love and appreciation for the many gifts of teaching and spiritual connection that she brings us. Publicly, however, Jessica declines this title and honor as one she will earn when her teachers bestow s’micha upon her (in January, 2018), an acknowledgement of their appreciation and acceptance of her as a colleague and rabbi.
Some of Jessica’s greatest joys includes co-creation (with individuals, couples, and families) of Jewish life cycle rituals for members of the Little Minyan Kehilla and others who are drawn to her soul-centered work and artistry. Her “rabbinistry” also includes assisting in the renewal of relationship with Jewish values and practices for Jews who feel ambivalent about or even alienated from the Judaism of their youth. She also facilitates learning and engagement for those who feel drawn to our wisdom and faith tradition and were born and raised within other religious or secular paths. Helping people to find value in a connection with the divine sparks of their Jewish journey is an intuitive strength she generously shares beyond the borders of The Little Minyan Kehilla.
Jessica finds great meaning in addressing social and environmental justice issues through a spiritual lens. She has worked for many years, through T’ruah ~ the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, and in alliance with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, to address human rights abuses faced by agricultural workers. Her advocacy has helped to raise awareness of consumers’ power to exert influence on corporate practices and root out injustice. In addition to her involvement in food justice issues, Jessica serves as a voice for greater attention to the climate crisis and action around environmental justice and Earth care. She is a local proponent of eco-kashrut practices and Judaic values that teach and support a way of living with a focus on sustainability and planetary health and balance. This and other endeavors are also opportunities to create meaningful collaborations in both Jewish and interfaith contexts. She currently serves on the board of Ohio Interfaith Power & Light and loves the dynamics and generosity of interfaith work. As a result of her advocacy skills and the strong friendships she has built with other community leaders and clergy who work for justice, Jessica is a frequent speaker at rallies, press conferences, and vigils.
In the career that preceded her calling, Jessica served as an attorney, mediator, and facilitator of conflict transformation, assisting others in learning and utilizing collaborative approaches to systemic and interpersonal disputes. She is a graduate of Brandeis University and The Ohio State University College of Law. She is “mom” to two teenage boys and a “recycled” (rescue) dog named Melody.