Our Rabbi

Rabbi Shmuel Birnham

Rabbi Shmuel Birn­ham was born in 1954, in New York, and lived on Long Island, NY for his first 18 years. He went to Dick­in­son Col­lege in Carlisle, Penn­syl­va­nia, where he majored in Soci­ol­ogy. Upon grad­u­at­ing in 1977, he knew he had to go to Israel. He left in Novem­ber 1979 and trav­eled through Europe en route to Israel. In Jan­u­ary 1980, in the Amer­i­can Express office in Milan, Italy, he met Sara Rabi­nowitz who was des­tined to become his wife. Rabbi lived in Israel on Kib­butz Ma’abarot (near Netanya) for half a year.

Shmuel entered Rab­bini­cal School at The Jew­ish The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary in NYC, In 19856, he returned to Israel for a year of Jew­ish stud­ies in Jerusalem.

In 1989, Rabbi Birn­ham was ordained and received his MA from JTS. He and Sara went to Asheville, North Car­olina to take up his first pulpit.

Rabbi Birn­ham was selected from a num­ber of North Amer­i­can Rab­bis nation­wide (among all the streams of Judaism) to par­tic­i­pate in a two year pro­gram called the Spir­i­tu­al­ity Insti­tute. Its focus was to bring many new lev­els of Jew­ish spir­i­tu­al­ity to inno­v­a­tive and future think­ing Rab­bis so that they could be enriched them­selves, and could also bring new tools of spir­i­tu­al­ity to their con­gre­ga­tions. The thirty Rab­bis selected to be in this pro­gram stud­ied with and were men­tored by Rabbi Arthur Green, Rabbi Jonathan Omer-​​Man, and Sylvia Boorstein, along with some very impres­sive “junior” fac­ulty. They will be focused on devel­op­ing Jew­ish spir­i­tual tools: Jew­ish med­i­ta­tion, spir­i­tual men­tor­ing, deep Chassidic/​Jewish Mys­ti­cal lit­er­a­ture, and more. In 2010, Rabbi Shmuel was the “Olympic Rabbi”… the rabbi in charge of arrang­ing ser­vices and spir­i­tual sup­port for Jew­ish ath­letes par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Van­cou­ver Win­ter Olympics.

Rabbi Birn­ham, Sara, and their son David Shalom moved to West Van­cou­ver and joined the Har El com­mu­nity in the sum­mer of 2000. These years have been a time of growth and evo­lu­tion for Har El, with an increase in both mem­ber­ship and com­mu­nity spirit. We all look for­ward to many more won­der­ful years with the Rabbi and his fam­ily as a part of our con­gre­ga­tion and community.

Con­tact Rabbi Birnham

Comments are closed.