NEW TIMES Do you remember the moment you wanted to leave the law world and join the congregation full time?
BERTENTHAL It was a long process. … I thought it over for years, and it wasn’t until the day that I submitted my application that I decided to go through with it. It was a challenge and life change. My family and I moved to Israel for 11 months while I was in rabbinical school.
NEW TIMES Are there many women in rabbinate positions? How has the congregation community responded to your new position?
BERTENTHA: In Orthodox Judaism, the belief is that women can’t be rabbis. I am part of the reform movement where women are common. I officially start on Aug. 9; I think congregants are excited, but I don’t have a very good feeling of exactly how I’ll be received.
NEW TIMES What is your favorite part of your day?
BERTENTHAL That moment of waking up and having the potential of the day ahead of me, and being thankful for being alive and reveling in what the day could be.
NEW TIME: What is the most rewarding lesson you’ve learned from your new position?
BERTENTHAL I’ve found the community to be warm and welcoming. I’m excited to become part of SLO community. I am so struck by how different a community it is … one where people are polite and care about each other.
NEW TIMES What are you hoping to bring to Congregation Beth David?
BERTENTHAL I think the things that are particularly “me” that will make a good contribution: I have a deep and abiding passion for social justice; I’ve had a lot of people tell me that I’m someone who is usually warm and bring compassion that people can feel to difficult moments; I also take a feminist approach to the tradition, and I’m excited to challenge the congregation with feminist literature and approaches towards issues.