Rabbi Rayzel Raphael is one of a kind

Susan EspirituWest Knoxville

Rabbi Rayzel is standing at the synagogue under the name of her grandparents who her parents commemorated by donating money to the chapel. (She is holding a shofar)

Rabbi Rayzel Raphael for President! I guess she would have to be a write in and I might have to ask her, but maybe.

I have had the privilege to learn about Rabbi Rayzel Raphael who is in Knoxville for 10 days as a guest rabbi at Heska Amuna Synagogue during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Rabbi Rayzel says, “It’s been such an honor to be here this year, I’ve been gone 50 years, but my incubation started here.” She says her best memory of growing up in Knoxville was the wonderful Jewish community, and the imprint on her that has carried her many places in her life.

Who wouldn’t want a self-described and proven unorthodox, creative, fun, lighthearted, funny, feminist, wise, Jewish woman as president.

Rabbi Rayzel is unorthodox because she has never fit in the box. She is a rabbi in a box traditionally created for men.

She says, “One of the reasons I’m a rabbi is that I was not offered the same opportunities as my brothers with access to lead services and be counted in a minyan, the quorum of 10 Jewish adults.”

Rabbi Rayzel says she describes herself as unorthodox because she is more of a spontaneous person and uses tradition as a jumping off place to make something different that has both the old and new contained in the revised version.

Rabbi Rayzel is creative, lighthearted and a comedian

The other descriptors can be seen in her pictures or through her website: Rabbi Rayzel Raphael’s Website. Rabbi Rayzel hates to do the same thing twice. She loves to laugh, doesn’t take herself too seriously and in fact loves being a stand-up rabbinic comedian.

However, the serious Rabbi Rayzel is constantly striving for equality for women and all diverse identities.

Rabbi Rayzel incorporates multiple roles in her life that surround her as a rabbi, but all include singing and songwriting too.

She is Rabbi/Kohenet Shechinah Priestess/Leader which includes life cycle officiant for weddings, funerals baby naming services etc.

Hallel, Rabbi Rayzel, Simcha and Yigdal Rafael

Rabbi Rayzel is an artist, a singer and songwriter, plus author of two children’s books.

She is also a mother and partner: mother to son, Yigdal, daughter, Hallel, and partner, Simcha Rafael.

Back to my vision of Rabbi Rayzel for President. I asked her to describe the perfect world if she could make it come true.

“We’d all be celebrating our diversity and arguing with dignity and respect. We’d be relaxed and not working so hard, and the planet would be taken care of so we’d be enjoying it. Poverty would be erased, and people would be taxed for waste, excesses and environmental destruction. We’d have free /education college and free trips around the world, so people would love to pay taxes and they would see it as their patriotic duty. Oh, yes, war would be no more.”

I am starting the write-in campaign, but I still haven’t asked her.

All of us have a story and I want to tell yours! Send them to susan@knoxtntoday.com


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