Our Rabbi

Rabbi Riqi Kosovske

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Rabbi Riqi’s ordination at HUC-JIR, Los Angeles, May 2007

Rabbi Raquel Shira Kosovske became our rabbi, spiritual leader and educator nearly sixteen years ago upon her ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles in 2007, moving with her partner and son to lead our congregation as our first full-time rabbi, in a match that felt “bashert.”  We are thrilled for the joy, compassion and depth of connection she brings to our community in every step of our journey together.

Rabbi Kosovske, or Rabbi Riqi as she is often called, or Rabba, brought to Beit Ahavah and the Pioneer Valley not only her extensive experience, knowledge, learning, training and intuitive wisdom as a rabbi, Jewish educator-artist, leader, teacher, activist, community organizer, ritual creator, spiritual guide, chaplain, poet and writer, but also her heart of great warmth, enthusiasm, and passion for blending tradition and intense spirituality with her radically progressive consciousness to individuals, families and community building.

Blessing new babies on her tallis swaddled in Torah on Shavuot.

Rabbi Riqi’s creativity, expertise and commitment to Judaism, feminism, ecology, artistic and musical spiritual expression, transformational ritual, social justice, the Reform movement, Jewish Renewal, building a progressive Israel, interfaith connections, LGBTQ celebration, passionate community-building and exploring Jewish identity have led our congregation and the Jewish community around us forward.  We are blessed to have her.

Rabbi Riqi spent six years formally studying towards rabbinic ordination at the Jerusalem and Los Angeles campuses of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and was a life-long Jewish learner before that.  While in rabbinical school, she held a chaplaincy internship at UCLA hospital, and student pulpits in the Bay Area Shir Ami synagogue and led High Holydays at UCLA and UC-Davis Hillels, led Lila Or high school and middle school while teaching at Santa Monica Synagogue, led B’nei Mitzvah students, and co-created a Jewish Renewal minyan at the Mishkan Tephilo Venice beach synagogue adjacent to her apartment on the beach.  Prior to rabbinical school, Rabbi Riqi led services, belonged to and started progressive, feminist, egalitarian and Renewal minyanim and chavurot, and worked in many synagogues, JCC’s, camps and institutions in Berkeley’s creative East Bay area, Jerusalem, Cambridge-Somerville and Boston area, Santa Monica and Los Angeles, as well as throughout college and high school.

She received Master of Arts and Master of Fine Arts degrees in Writing & Consciousness at San Francisco’s New College of California in 2000, and holds a B.A. from Brandeis University in English and American literature and concentration in Women’s Studies.  She grew up at the Tree of Life Congregation in Columbia, South Carolina, and spent time after college living and working in Cambridge, the San Francisco-Berkeley East Bay area, her beloved Jerusalem, and finally Los Angeles.

Releasing monarch with joyous blessing for its grand flight to Mexico.

Rabbi Kosovske went to rabbinical school with a thirst to learn the tools of Talmud, unearth the Divine feminine in Judaism, explore the streets of Jerusalem and bring many parts of herself together.  She brought her experience as a Jewish educator-artist, curriculum writer, JCC camp director and youth leader, teaching and directing in many programs and curriculum development.  She had worked in the Midrasha Bay Area Teen Program, the Olam Yeladim after-school arts-enrichment program at Jewish Community Services, East Bay Jewish Federation summer camps (Camp Tzofim and Camp Kadima), San Francisco’s Congregation Sha’ar Zahav and religious schools across all denominations of Judaism.  Rabbi Riqi’s Jewish roots go back to her family, and extensively to beautiful and passionate summers as a camper and counselor at URJ Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute camp in Oconomowoc, WI, as well as leadership and involvement in NFTY, SEFTY and EIE Heller High Semester in Israel.  She was a macrame enthusiast and mixer of purple bug juice as a JCC camp ‘tween CIT in Columbia, SC.

Today Rabbi Riqi’s passions have flourished as a Mariposista — a backyard milkweed and monarch butterfly doula and passionate activist for the species.  You will find her in her backyard inspecting the underside of every milkweed leaf and celebrating every stage of caterpillar development throughout the late summer and early fall, while contemplating sermons, transformation and Tikkun Olam – healing the world.  Plant milkweed! 


Rabbi Riqi’s 10 Year Anniversary!

View Rabbi Riqi’s 10-Year Anniversary Tribute Book, May 12, 2017.
Mazel tov and thank you for your generous support!