Temple Beth Shalom, Spokane’s Conservative Jewish congregation, didn’t have to look far to find its new rabbi.
Rabbi Tamar Malino has been serving Spokane’s Jewish community for the past few years, working part-time as the executive director of Spokane Area Jewish Family Services and part-time as the rabbi at Congregation Emanu-El, the local reform Jewish congregation.
On Aug. 1, she took on a new role and began leading Temple Beth Shalom, replacing Rabbi Michael Goldstein, who left earlier this year.
Malino, 43, left her position at SAJFS, but continues to serve quarter-time at Emanu-El.
She said the position at Temple Beth Shalom, which is three-quarters time, appealed to her because she has an affinity for both reform and conservative Judaism, and because she has an affection for the local Jewish population.
“I think part of me is like, well, this is Jewish community in Spokane and if I live here, and I care about it, then this is where I should be,” she said.
Scott Morris, who served as chairman of the rabbinic search committee, said there were many applicants, but that Malino was the clear choice.
“What set her above the rest was her experience, her skills in interacting with people, her knowledge of the community and her passion for the job,” he said. “Her intelligence and enthusiasm became more evident with every step of the process.”
He said there’s a sense of excitement throughout the congregation about Malino, who is the temple’s first female rabbi and a mother of four.
Malino said she hopes to help TBS revitalize its core strengths, which she said include its remarkable sense of community, and also wants to help the temple explore what it means to be a liberal, conservative congregation, “so that everyone who walks in the door feels welcome.”
Although Emanu-El will continue to meet at its space at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane, Malino said the two congregations will celebrate some events together, beginning with the High Holy Days later this month.
“I think there’s a sense that the overall Jewish community in Spokane is small, and for all of our betterment the more we work together and learn from each other and grow together and enrich Jewish life together, the better off we’ll all be,” she said.
Rabbi Elizabeth Goldstein, assistant professor of religious studies at Gonzaga University, is assisting at both congregations during the High Holy Days.
Faith Hayflich, president of Emanu-El, said the congregation is confident in Malino’s ability to lead both communities.
“We trust Tamar. She’s just a terrific rabbi. She’s charismatic. What everyone says is, ‘I don’t know if this can work or not, but if anyone can manage this, Tamar can,’ ” she said.
Both congregations will worship at Temple Beth Shalom for some services during Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, including the Erev Rosh Hashana service at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24.
Malino said that’s something she’s especially excited about.
“That’s one of the things that’s most powerful for me,” she said, “having everyone together in one place at one time, and to know Jews all over will be doing the same thing.”