Rabbi Jama L. Purser
Rabbi, Beth Israel Synagogue
Rabbi Purser bring years of leadership experience and community engagement to a congregation that values building a diverse community, where we celebrate simchas and milestones together, worship with passion, teach each other Torah, learn how to care for ourselves and others, steward the planet, teach our children, and protect the dignity of all human beings. At Beth Israel we are eager to nurture relationships, creativity, spiritual inspiration and innovation, to make room for laughter and for tears, and to create a strong and vibrant life rooted in Jewish values.
Poteach et Yadecha: (You!) Open Your Hand
Rabbi Jama Purser is a 2018 graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City (JTS). In 2013 Rabbi Purser was admitted to the JTS as an “Academic Crown Scholar” (one of two such scholarships awarded each year). In 2015 and 2016, she studied at the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary and the Schocken Institute in Jerusalem, along with other Rabbinical and Cantorial students from JTS (NY) and Ziegler (LA), and with Rabbinical students from Israel and Argentina. In 2018 she graduated with a Master’s degree in Jewish Studies and Rabbinic Ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and a Certificate in Clinical Pastoral Care from the Center for Clinical Pastoral Care and Counseling, also at JTS.
Between semesters of academic training, Rabbi Purser completed two 400-hour units of Clinical Pastoral Care training under the supervision of Rabbi Mychal Springer at JTS, and Rabbi Sandy Bogin at The Jewish Home Lifecare/Sarah Neuman Center of New York. She was awarded a Fellowship in the Clinical Pastoral Care Training Program at JTS, co-funded by the NY Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women. Rabbi Purser completed her Rabbinic Internship with Rabbi Jeffrey Segelman at Westchester Jewish Center, a conservative synagogue in Larchmont, NY. During her Seminary training she also provided Pastoral and Rabbinic leadership to Jewish senior citizens at The Ambassador, an assisted living facility in Scarsdale, NY.
Prior to her rabbinic studies, Rabbi Purser was a Physical Therapist and Epidemiologist whose research and professional career focused on the healthy aging, engagement and independence of older adults. Jama grew up in Charlotte, NC, and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She lived in the Chapel, NC area for over 20 years. Prior to moving to NY for Rabbinical School, she was an Assistant Professor at Duke University Medical Center in the Division of Geriatrics, Department of Medicine, and a Senior Fellow in Duke’s Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development.
In addition to her passion for Jewish learning, education, and caring, Rabbi Purser also enjoys hiking, gardening, cooking, travelling, theatre, reading, listening to music, and visiting with family and friends. She is married to and shares many of these interests with her life partner Bina Raskin, who currently works at Blue Ridge Behavioral Health of Roanoke, VA.