Rabbi Audrey R. Korotkin hopes to bring a sense of joy to Temple Beth Israel where she recently became spiritual leader.
Korotkin, who has served three other temples, said, "besides my rabbinical life experiences, I have an energy I try to put in everything and everybody." She said she wants people to have a sense of joy, a sense of celebration and a sense of blessing about their Judaism.
Congregants first became acquainted with Korotkin and that sense of joy about 10 months ago when she and her husband, Don C. Clippinger, first visited the temple.
Rabbi Audrey R. Korotkin is the new spiritual leader at Temple Beth Israel.
She wasn't looking for a rabbinic position but rather a place where she and Clippinger could worship after they settled into their retirement home in Tyrone this year.
Instead, the position came to her.
Temple Beth Israel had been depending on student rabbis and lay leaders for spiritual guidance for four years when the congregants learned she was a rabbi. After following the proper procedures required by the Reform Judaism movement in hiring a rabbi, she conducted her first Sabbath service July 2.
The Korotkin file
Name: Rabbi Audrey R. Korotkin
Family: Husband, Don C. Clippinger
Education: 1999 ordination, Hebrew Union College -- Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati; 1998 Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters, HUC -- JIR; 1979 graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, in Russian Area Studies
Pulpits served: 2007-2010, Temple Adath Joseph, St. Joseph, Mo; 2000-2006, Temple Judea Mizpah, Skokie, Ill.; and 1998-2000, Temple Anshe Emeth, Piqua, Ohio.
Number of years of service: 11
She said the Yiddish word for what happened is "beshert" which means something fated or kismet.
Korotkin said she feels comfortable serving Temple Beth Israel.
"We came here last year to worship and pray. We got to know the people and have been to lots of events," she said.
She will serve part time, working 20 to 25 hours per week.
Korotkin said the congregation wants to continue having its lay leadership lead some Friday night services.
"One of the things I admire is how self-sufficient the congregation has become," she said. "There are so many talented people here."
She said people lead services and teach adult and children's classes, as well as adult Bible studies.
"It's such a complementary component of Jewish life that we have here. I think it is wonderful," she said.
Korotkin will be able to fill in some of the gaps, such as making pastoral visits when someone is ill or just being a listening ear. She will work with Hazzan Michael Horwitz, spiritual leader at Agudath Achim Synagogue, by co-teaching the 10th grade confirmation class and teaching Hebrew to youths in preparation for their bar and bat mitzvahs.
Although she is Jewish by ethnic background, Korotkin's family was not observant, and she only delved into her faith about 20 years ago. After she and Clippinger got married, they joined a temple in Louisville, Ky.
Clippinger, who had a Christian background, had an affinity for Judaism and converted.
"We went on our journey together," Korotkin said.
They took basic Judaism classes in Louisville under Rabbi Stanley Miles at Temple Shalom.
"He is still our rabbi, our mentor, our friend," Korotkin said.
During classes, Korotkin's natural curiosity drove her to learn more.
"If I asked one question, I had 10 questions waiting," she said. She also caught onto Hebrew quickly.
Clippinger said his wife has a facility for languages and can speak Aramaic (the language of the Talmud), Yiddish and Russian.
As a member of Temple Shalom, she taught Hebrew to seventh-graders and became more involved in making contributions to the community.
"The more I studied, the more I wanted to know. The more I became active, the more I thought, 'This is what I should be doing with life. This is what I was meant to do.'"
She is a graduate of Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati and was accepted into its doctoral program before she was ordained and is continuing to work on her doctorate in rabbinic literature.
She is hoping to bring some fresh ideas to the temple, including summer outdoor services, a blessing of animals and healing services.
She also wants to continue the temple's community efforts. Korotkin and Clippinger attended the Sixth Ward Thanksgiving service, the Martin Luther King Day observance and participate in the temple's work at the Love Feasts at Simpson-Temple United Parish in the winter.
"It's part of our mission as Jews, as well. Don't put boundaries on helping others," she said.
"It already is a a great cohesive community. I want to encourage vibrance and energy so people sense the energy and become part of it," she said