By Jacob Baynham
Master of Business Administration, 2012
Rabbi, Congregation Beth Adam, and at OurJewishCommunity.org
iRabbi | Baum is not your grandmother’s rabbi. In addition to her traditional rabbi duties at Congregation Beth Adam, Baum also tends to virtual Jewish congregations. She created and operates the website OurJewishCommunity.org. She blogs. She makes hit YouTube videos like “Passover Seder in Three Minutes.” Her Twitter handle is @Rabbi.
The Frozen Chosen | Her mission? To make one of the world’s oldest faiths more accessible. “Judaism needs to not be frozen in time,” she says. “There are Jewish communities that want to live Judaism like it was centuries ago. For me it’s much more exciting to live Judaism in the present and future, and embrace all the new tools and resources we have.”
Global Reach | In 2010, the Jewish Daily Forward named Baum one of the 50 most influential female rabbis in America. Her use of social media was featured in The Wall Street Journal. The Huffington Post publishes her blog posts and she recently appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Her online congregation, OurJewishCommunity.org, has grown to an audience of 300,000 people in 180 countries.
Scrolls to Screens | “Our goal is to reach Jews who haven’t felt a connection to the Jewish community,” Baum says. “Religion has changed. We don’t use scrolls anymore. We transitioned from scrolls to books. So why don’t we use screens?”
Rabbi-rouser | “Some people hear ‘rabbi’ and they picture a man with a beard and a black hat,” Baum says. “Just the fact that I’m female and young already pushes some people’s expectations. I’m willing to say what’s on my mind, what I know to be my experience as a Jew and a rabbi. I’m willing to push the envelope.”
Questions and Answers | That could mean not celebrating holidays she considers archaic or inviting gays and lesbians into the congregation. “Judaism is a religion that I think is about questioning,” she says. “That’s the Judaism that I embrace.”
Brains for Business | She chose to pursue an MBA at Xavier in order to use a different part of her brain. “As a rabbi of an online congregation, I saw how important it was to have business skills, and to understand the organization and its structure. It’s very much like a tech startup, even though it’s a nonprofit.”
Bookworm | “I think I’m addicted to going to school,” Baum says. Before coming to Xavier for her MBA, she spent five years in rabbinical school at Hebrew Union College. Before that, she graduated summa cum laude from Yale with a bachelor’s in psychology.
Back to the Future | “I never want to use tradition for tradition’s sake,” Baum says. “I have a respect for the past, but I’m also eager to anticipate the future. What we have to say today is as important as what our ancestors said, too. Judaism is a religion that really has been creative over time and has evolved with people’s needs. I would hate to have that stagnate.”