Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe Bernhard
Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe Bernhard received his ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in May 1996. Prior to that, he studied at Haverford College, PA, from 1984-1988, where he received his BA in Religious Studies.
Though his upbringing was thoroughly secular, Rabbi Bernhard parents’ were remarkably supportive when he started on his own journey back to Judaism. This journey’s first steps began when reading Elie Wiesel’s book Night and continued with a summer in Israel on a kibbutz, attending the Brandeis-Bardin Summer Institute (BCI), and then stint studying at Yeshivat Ha’Mivtar and HebrewUniversity.
Always drawn to teaching, the rabbinate attracted him because it allowed him to teach all ages and in many different circumstances. In addition, it offered the chance to be of service and involved with families and individuals in the full range of life cycle events and be they moments of joy or sadness. Eventually, he decided to go the Jewish Theological Seminary because he felt that the Conservative Movement struck the best balance between staying rooted in tradition while being open to innovation.
Upon ordination in 1996, he came to Adat Ari El as the assistant rabbi where he has served ever since and he is now only the third senior rabbi in the congregation’s 70 year history. Over this time his understanding of Judaism has evolved and developed and under the influence of such diverse thinkers such as Rabbis Mordecai Kaplan, Neil Gillman, Arthur Green, Rami Shapiro, Gordon Tucker, Jonathan Sacks and Brad Artson. For him, Judaism’s core challenge is encapsulated in Bible’s command to love one’s neighbor as oneself. This call to love lays out both our personal and communal agenda to be of service to the other and our goal of creating community whereby we learn and live according to this command.
Rabbi Bernhard has served been a part of number of communal organizations and is currently the President of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Los Angeles.
Although a native New Yorker, Rabbi Bernhard is familiar with the LA area; in 1988, while attending the Brandeis-Bardin Summer Institute he met his wife, Laurie Jaffe. Laurie is from Northridge, where her family was members of TempleJudea for many years.
Laurie and Jonathan have three boys: Nathaniel, Micah and Elijah who they not only love but actually like as well.Email Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe Bernhard