Stephen Wise Free Synagogue is excited to welcome our new associate rabbi, Dalia Samansky. Born in Los Angeles, Rabbi Samansky is a fourth-generation Angelino. She comes to us from Temple Ahavat Shalom in Northridge, California, where she has run the religious school and youth programming for four years, and Los Angeles’ Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning, where she has been a member of the faculty for the past 13 years. She was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2009.
As part of her portfolio here, Rabbi Samansky will be overseeing Family Experiences, Pathways the Jewish Values Project, and liaising with Community Connections and the Women’s Organization. Along with our other clergy, she’ll assist with all lifecycle events, help teach our Adult B’nai Mitzvah class and in our Religious School, and participate in Shabbat and holiday services.
We sat down with Rabbi Samansky so we could get to know her a little better.
Q: When did you decide you wanted to become a rabbi?
A: With the exception of wanting to be a firefighter at age six, all of the jobs I considered were in the traditional helping professions: I was either going to be a teacher, a social worker, or something along those lines. Somewhere in high school I realized I could do all those things in the place I loved most — the synagogue: I could make my passion into my profession and share Judaism as a rabbi.
Q: What was the “Aha!” moment for you?
A: When I was 17, I traveled to Israel on the NFTY summer trip. Being in Israel really solidified my desire to pursue the rabbinate. From that time on, I never wavered in my decision to become a rabbi. I am incredibly lucky; I love my job and know that what I do makes our world a little bit better.
Q: Tell us about your family.
A: My husband Jason is an investment consultant and his parents live here in New York. We have two daughters: Naomi, who will be 14 in July and just became a bat mitzvah over Memorial Day weekend, and Tova will turn 11 this month. As a family, we are very excited to be moving to New York City. It’s so nice that my girls will have the opportunity to spend more time with their grandparents!
Q: How do you approach your rabbinate?
A: It’s all about personal relationships. I truly believe we make a difference when people feel valued, seen, and heard. I believe that being a rabbi, at its heart, is being an educator. I’m the daughter of two educators and the daughter-in-law of two educators, so education is in my blood; it runs through my veins. Whether delivering a sermon or working with kindergarteners, it’s about teaching parts of our culture and sharing my passion and love of Judaism.
Q: What most excites you about joining the Stephen Wise community?
A: I’m so excited to be moving to New York City and joining this wonderful community. My values are in line with Stephen Wise’s; I love the synagogue’s deep commitments to both Reform Judaism and Israel, two things I, too, hold dear. I am eager to return to full-time pulpit responsibilities, and I am inspired by the team I will be working with! Did you know that Rabbi Rena Rifkin and I were classmates at HUC?
Rabbi Samansky can’t wait to meet you after she starts on July 1. She hopes you’ll join us for services or stop by Stephen Wise this summer to say hello!
Photo credit: Rich Prugh Photography