Rabbi Carolyn Braun

In 1979, with a B.A. in 19th Century American and English Literature in hand, Rabbi Braun spent two years at the Hillel Foundation at M.I.T. before beginning her journey to the rabbinate.  In 1984, she received a Masters degree in Judaic Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary.  That very year, the decision was made to accept women in the rabbinical program.  Rabbi Braun entered with the first class of women and was ordained in 1988. During Rabbinical School, Rabbi Braun worked as a chaplain at Sloan-Kettering Memorial Hospital, counseled inmates at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (Federal Prison System), as well as serving several congregations as a teacher in their adult education programs.

Following her ordination, Rabbi Braun spent six years at Mount Holyoke College where she was the first rabbi and full-time Jewish chaplain. Her congregation included faculty, staff, students and individuals both within and outside the College community. With the support of the college and the students, Rabbi Braun began the Kosher-Hallal Kitchen – a place where students could observe the dietary laws of Kashrut and Hallal (Muslim dietary laws) as well as participate in discussions on Muslim and Jewish topics.

In December of 1994, Rabbi Braun left Mount Holyoke College and assumed her present position as Rabbi of Temple Beth El.  Among her many roles as a spiritual leader, Rabbi Braun has been involved in interfaith activities, served on the Board of Directors of the United Way, the Chaplain’s Advisory Counsel at Bates College, and the Maine Interfaith Council for Reproductive Choices (“MICRC”).

Presently, Rabbi Braun serves on the Medical Ethics and Pastoral Services Committees at Maine Medical Center and is on the Boards of Maine Initiatives, Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence, Wayneflete School, and the Martin Luther King site selection committee for the city of Portland.
Rabbi Braun lives in Portland with her hound, Ruby.

“Let all who are hungry, come and eat.”

With these words, we begin our Passover Seder—welcoming all to share our story and our food.  And with these words, we welcome all to nourish themselves with prayer and community at Temple Beth El.

It's an honor to serve as rabbi to Temple Beth El. From this position I have the privilege of interpreting and teaching our tradition to our congregants and the greater Portland community. The rewards of my position are many. I can worship in a setting which is meaningful to me, engage in important dialogue with people of all ages and backgrounds, and benefit from the opportunity to be close to my congregants during the most important events of their lives.

Temple Beth El is an institution of ongoing learning. It is a place where we can encounter, question, and re-encounter the Jewish tradition together, in an embracing and supportive atmosphere. As Jacob said in the book of Genesis, Ein zeh ki im bet elohim, "This is none other than the abode of God, and that is the gateway to heaven."

  ~ Rabbi Carolyn Braun

To contact Rabbi Braun, please click here.

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