Rabbi Hannah Dresner
Rabbi Hannah Dresner received rabbinic ordination and ordination in spiritual direction from ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal. She comes to the rabbinate with experience as an educator, piloting curricula in the arts at Northwestern University and creating participatory programs for the Spertus Museum of Judaica in Chicago.
Rabbi Hannah is a regular contributor to Rabbis Without Borders, and My Jewish Learning, where you can find more of her writings. Read further writings and reflections in the From the Rabbi section of our website.
A founding member of Chicago’s post denominational minyan, Lomdim, and of Or Zarua, the Reconstructionist Chavurah of the East Bay, Rabbi Hannah has facilitated large-scale High holiday services for Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley where she co-leads a niggun and meditation group. She serves Reform congregation B’nei Torah in Brentwood, CA as visiting rabbi, and travels extensively to teach chassidic texts, the art of prayer and niggun as spiritual practice. Last August she served as a featured prayer leader and speaker at the shabbaton commemorating Reb Zalman in Boulder. Rabbi Hannah is a member of the four person Jewish Renewal Bet Din, has completed a CLAL (The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership) student fellowship, and has been selected as a new blogger for Rabbis Without Borders.
Rabbi Hannah is delighted to be Or Shalom’s new rabbi and is very much looking forward to the exciting possibilities the future holds. She believes that what enlivens religious community is our sense of its relevance to the questions we are presently living. A synagogue community attains its fullest resonance when its every program answers to an expressed or perceived need, whether that need is to satisfy an intellectual curiosity, experiment in a modality of opening to the divine, a need for social connection or support in aspects of family life, whether it is a need in the realm of social justice, to mark comings of age, to lament or bear witness or be witnessed, a need of help in cultivating gratitude or restraint or courage, or in holding one of the myriad dualities of life, and on.
Rabbi Hannah embraces the spectrum of Jewish truths and is committed to offering the broadest possible platform upon which to build the works of art that are our lives. She supports a wide range of ways in which to experience Judaism so that our religious lives truly address our human needs, and so that we flourish. As Or Shalom’s rabbi she will foster inclusive community embracing those coming to the tradition for the first time, educated Jews and those once estranged, blended families of every flavour, individuals of all capacities, all ethnic, racial and gender pluralities. She looks forward to her relationships with congregations of all ages, each of us seen and ministered to, given voice, offered enrichment, partnered with appropriate sub-communal affinity groups and pastorally companioned.
Information about our Rabbis Emeriti
Interim Rabbi Louis Sutker
Or Shalom’s Interim Rabbi for 2014-2015 was Rabbi Louis Sutker.
Rabbi Louis has been very active in the Victoria Jewish Community for many years, and many Or Shalomniks know him from being a guest Rabbi at the Or Shalom 2007 Retreat. “I’m very much looking forward to taking on the role of Or Shalom’s interim rabbi. I received my smicha from Aleph:Alliance for Jewish Renewal in the same year as Reb Laura. I hope to maintain Or Shalom’s momentum and add my own enthusiasm, davenning and experience, as you search for your full-time rabbi.”
Rabbi Louis W. Sutker, Ph. D. is a transplanted American from the deep South who came to Canada in 1974 as a professor of Psychology to teach at the University of Victoria. He soon became involved with the Victoria Jewish community serving in many capacities including Gabai and President of Emanu El, first President of the Victoria Jewish Federation and on the Board of Directors of the Victoria Hebrew Free Loan Society. He also served as Jewish Chaplain at the University of Victoria and was on the Executive of the Victoria Multi-faith Society.
After his term at the University, Louis was in full-time practice as a Psychologist in Victoria with specialities in neuropsychology and forensic psychology. Before his retirement from his Psychology practice in 2013 he was contracted with the Youth Forensic Psychiatric Services and was the Regional Clinical Director of the Northern Region.
While in Victoria Louis had the privilege of meeting people involved with the Jewish Renewal movement and gradually became involved himself. He often led davening, read Torah, conducted services, led educational groups and trained bnai mitzvah. Louis entered the Aleph Rabbinic training and after five years of study received Smicha in 2005. He led High Holiday services at synagogues in Canada and the United States.
Rabbi Sutker delights in learning in order to teach, creating innovative liturgy, working with the Sephirot and translating Psalms in such a way that the English resonates to the Hebrew words.