From Rabbi
Updated November 4, 2014
Rabbi Andra Greenwald's  Bio

The Mother Lode Jewish Community Welcomes Rabbi Andra Greenwald…

My name is Andra Greenwald, my best friend is my husband, Loren Gonella, and we have three wonderful daughters, one of whom is studying to become invested as a hazzan

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and ordained rabbi and the combination of these two ingredients has led to amazing and varied experiences, including my recent
evenings with the Mother Lode Jewish Community.   I am a graduate of Brooklyn College with a B.S. in psychology and received my Master of Social Work degree from the
California State University system.

I have enjoyed many years in the mental health field, serving as a psychotherapist in a clinic as well as having had a private practice for 21 years.  During that time, I also served
as a child custody mediator in the Superior Court for 18 years, becoming the director of Family Court Services for the last of these.

In July of 2009, I was ordained as a rabbi at the Actors Temple in midtown Manhattan, New York.  My studies were not linked to any particular branch of Judaism, but did offer a
strong interfaith component, which I felt invaluable in the context in which we live.  The diverse nature of today's congregations with our interfaith families and our warm
welcoming of Jews by Choice made this path the perfect one for me.  

Subsequently, I have very much enjoyed leading services on Shabbat and offering sermons I hope touch all those within earshot.  I have also relished the opportunity to
accompany many people along their journeys to Judaism.  I have also served as a volunteer chaplain at the Sierra Conservation Center and volunteered for 9 years at the
Redwood Family Center, where women becoming clean and sober are working to become reunited with their children.

For almost 2 years, throughout 2010 and most of 2011, I contributed monthly to a Religion 101 column in the Merced Sun Star and currently remain a resource for the Modesto
Bee whenever Jewish holidays are upon us and are the focus of articles sharing our faith and celebrations.

I have served on the Board of Directors of Congregation Beth Shalom for 8 years and have been on the Board of Directors of Modesto's InterFaith Ministries for 9 years, where I
currently serve as second vice president.  I am also a member of the Stanislaus County Interfaith Council, which works to build bridges among the various faiths in our community
and to show how much we all really have in common.  For the past 3 years, I have led Congregation Beth Shalom's Community Seder and truly enjoy welcoming members of
the community and introducing them to our heritage.  This is also why I regularly offer Sanctuary tours to any community group who asks to visit the Sanctuary in Modesto.

I currently teach a monthly Torah for Today class introducing our Matriarchs and Patriarchs to anyone who wishes to learn about our history, and what we can glean from it for
our own lives; I also teach individuals who are interested in learning about our faith, in order to become members of the Tribe, as well as Journey to Judaism classes for those
who prefer learning among friends.  Outside of the classroom, it has been a joy to be invited to name babies and very touching to be asked to participate in all manners of life
cycle events, my hope being to make these moments—happy or sad—meaningful.

In my free time, I love to cook, write poetry and spend time with people I love.

It has been very special to share in Shabbatot with the members of the Mother Lode Jewish Community this spring.  Thank you so much for welcoming me so warmly into your
spiritual home.