Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum, executive director and founder of Kavana, a cooperative Jewish community in Seattle, Washington, and a 2004 graduate of The Rabbinical School of The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), is one of five emerging Jewish leaders to be named a recipient of the 2009 AVI CHAI Fellowship.
Fellows receive grants of $75,000 each year for the next three years to be used toward the fulfillment of specific projects within their organization. According to the AVI CHAI Foundation, Rabbi Nussbaum plans to use the award to expand Kavana's Hebrew immersion program, "which aims to teach Hebrew virtually from birth and ultimately to create a community which can engage meaningfully with Jewish texts and other Jewish communities around the world."
A recipient of the Bronfman Youth Fellowship and the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, in 2008 Rabbi Nussbaum was named one of the "Top 25 Pulpit Rabbis in America" by Newsweek magazine. A graduate of Duke University, where she received the Benjamin N. Duke Leadership Award, Rabbi Nussbaum also received a master's degree in Midrash from JTS. She has served in a variety of rabbinic capacities, including at Harvard Hillel; Beth El Synagogue, Durham, North Carolina; and Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation in Mercer Island, Washington, where she was assistant rabbi for two years.
In April 2009, Newsweek magazine named Kavana one of "America's 25 Most Vibrant Congregations." Established in 2006, Kavana's vision is to help individuals from all backgrounds, their partners, and their families have a supportive, warm, and open-minded community in which to use kavana (intention) to create a personally meaningful, joyful Jewish life.
According to the rabbi, the award from AVI CHAI gives Kavana a level of recognition and credibility outside of the local area, which is integral to her ultimate goal of creating a replicable community that can engage meaningfully with Jewish texts and other Jewish communities around the world.
AVI CHAI is a private foundation endowed by Zalman C. Bernstein that is committed to the perpetuation of the Jewish people, Judaism, and the centrality of the State of Israel to the Jewish people.