MARBLEHEAD – Rabbi Allison Peiser has been named the new temple educator at Temple Emanu-El of Marblehead.
A native of Texas, Peiser attended Temple Emanu-El in Dallas as a young child. She spent the rest of her upbringing at Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills, California. Now, at her third Temple Emanu-El, she is ready to share the joys of Jewish education to a new community.
She began her role as a Jewish educator as a teacher’s assistant at her temple’s Hebrew school during high school and continued throughout college: “I started teaching religious school when I was in high school. In college, I taught at Temple Isaiah and Temple Shalom in Lexington and Newton,” she said.
She was also a member of the Jewish youth group NFTY. After majoring in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Sociology, she received her bachelor’s degree from Brandeis. She completed rabbinical school at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.
After graduating from rabbinical school, she found herself in Fort Collins, Colo., working as the Hillel director of Colorado State College. For the last five years, she served as the education director at Temple Beth Shalom in Melrose.
“My title is ‘Temple Educator’, which means I’ll be overseeing all educational programs at the synagogue,” she said. “Mostly the religious school, which is the formal after-school program.”
Peiser will also help lead the temple’s pre-confirmation class for seventh and eighth graders, and will help teach the confirmation and post-confirmation classes. Peiser and Rabbi David Meyer will also alternate teaching an independent Torah study group on Saturday mornings.
Although she is still adapting to her new environment at Temple Emanu-El, she is excited to become a part of her new community and be involved with temple traditions “I’m not someone who comes in and immediately makes lots of changes. I like to feel out the institution and what its culture is and try to improve things where I see an opportunity to,” she said.
“I want people to have a positive association with Judaism and realize there are many different ways to be Jewish. I’d like them to figure out a way that makes the most sense for who they are as a person.”
A main goal is to help families learn “how to do Jewish” outside of the synagogue and make it a part of everyday life. Although Judaism may be changing to fit the new demands of today’s world, Peiser believes that “Judaism is experienced in families,” and she hopes to be part of “more family-oriented” at Temple Emanu-El.