Rabbi Sandra M. Bellush, a former New Yorker, comes to Temple Am Echad as its Senior Rabbi having served as Associate Rabbi of Temple Mount Sinai in El Paso, Texas. Rabbi Bellush’s rabbinic leadership is informed by the understanding that a vibrant and engaging Temple community adds meaning and value to daily living for both children and adults.
During her tenure in El Paso, Rabbi Bellush shared lessons of Torah with all ages by leading Tot Shabbat services to teaching adult education courses in overcoming obstacles to prayer. Recognizing the importance of study leading to action, Rabbi Bellush engaged her congregation to participate more fully both within the temple community and outside its temple walls. She facilitated and trained care teams to engage the elderly and homebound in temple life and initiated a Baby Boomers group to build community and increase participation in social action projects. As an advocate of social justice, Rabbi Bellush initiated a temple partnership with a local food pantry to raise awareness of local food insecurity and provide volunteer opportunities. As a result of her community’s involvement, close to $100,000 was raised in a three-year period to fight hunger in El Paso.
“My hope is to continue to make Judaism relevant in people’s lives,” Rabbi Bellush says. “As liberal Jews we make choices every day about how to live our lives. It’s very exciting to me that Judaism can give us a moral compass and can make us more aware of the larger world we live in.”
Am Echad President Lisa Burch said the congregation is looking forward to welcoming Bellush to the community.
“We are so thrilled to have Rabbi Bellush join us at Temple Am Echad. Our goal is to be a center for Reform Judaism on the south shore of Long Island. We’ve already laid the groundwork with our innovative worship services, our exemplary religious school and our commitment to social justice. Rabbi Bellush will help us grow what we have already begun and we look forward to a long and happy relationship.”
Rabbi Bellush’s former professional career as an investment banker and management consultant provides a wealth of additional skills which enhance her rabbinate. She served on a joint effort of the URJ, CCAR and HUC-JIR to craft a vision statement for the Reform Movement’s future and currently serves on the CCAR Budget & Finance committee.
“What my career also adds to my rabbinate is that ability to understand people’s real life problems,” Rabbi Bellush noted. “I understand the challenges of building a career but also having enough time to raise a family.”
As a student rabbi Rabbi Bellush served congregations in Petoskey, MI, Terre Haute, IN, and Cincinnati, OH. She led services at a home for the aged and a college Hillel, served as a hospital chaplain and taught religious school at the elementary as well as high school level.
Rabbi Bellush is a graduate of The Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a B.S. in civil engineering. She received ordination in 2011 from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, at which time she received the Cora Kahn Prize for outstanding sermon delivery and oratory. In earning her MAHL from HUC-JIR in 2010, Rabbi Bellush was awarded the Nathan Stern Prize for the student completing the Master of Arts degree with the highest academic standing in the graduating class.
Rabbi Bellush was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, and is fluent in Spanish, but was raised in New York City. She is married to Arnold Bellush, a retired New York City School teacher, and has two step children and four grandchildren.
Rabbi Bellush may be reached by calling the Temple Office at (516) 593-4004 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.