2012 Double Chai in the Chi

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Rachel Kohl Finegold

Rachel Kohl Finegold

Rachel Kohl Finegold is changing the face of Orthodox Judaism – not only in Chicago but in the United States as well, according to Rachel Shtern, a congregant and friend who nominated Rachel for Double Chai.

Rachel is the Educational and Ritual Director at Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation, where she manages the adult education program, organizes family education programs and serves in a pastoral role for congregants. She created and implemented the Project Mischpacha program at ASBI, which brought in new members to the shul and created friendships among people that may not otherwise have met. “In her role, Rachel serves as a religious and spiritual leader for the entire community, not just the women,” Shtern said. “Rachel believes that someone should not just do Judaism but understand it ... When you get to know Rachel, you become intrigued at how someone can live an Orthodox lifestyle and be so cool.”

“She teaches Torah with passion and with fire and a true dedication. Anshe Sholom would be incomplete without her as a member of our clergy,” said Deena Davis, who also nominated Rachel.

Rachel has a passion for music, bringing innovation to shul programs. Over the past few years, she has taught classes in Kashrut and Shabbat. She plans continuing education classes for the Mikvah attendants. She and her husband, Avi, teach bride and groom classes as an open discussion.

In her spare time, Rachel is an avid yogi – and her office chair is an exercise ball.

Rachel Kohl Finegold


Pays the bills:
Education and Ritual Director at Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation

On the side:
Enrolled in the inaugural class of Yeshivat Maharat (via webcam to New York), a new institution training Orthodox women as halachic and spiritual leaders

Relationship status:
Taken – married to her husband, Rabbi Avi Finegold, a freelance rabbi/educator and self-proclaimed “Torah ninja”

Describe yourself in 10 words or less:
You can take the girl out of Brooklyn, but...

Celebrity doppelganger:
Tina Fey

How do you Jew in Chicago?
Text-based study is the key. Those I teach should not have to take me on my word, but rather should see it for themselves

Yoga, A Cappella and my two adorable and feisty daughters, Kinneret, age 2 and 1/2, and Nedivah, age 6 months.

How do you give back?
I’m standing on the shoulders of women who came before me, who fought to carve out space for women in Jewish life. Now, I continue to build opportunities for women’s full religious expression, especially in the Orthodox community.

Fill in the blank: If time and money were limitless, I would:
travel the country on a hot air balloon.

Chicago's Jewish community in 10 years:
The Chicago Jewish community will finally realize it doesn’t need to look over its shoulder at New York.

Me in 10 years:
Performing a one-woman show in which I sing the answers to halachic questions.