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Sarasota Thursday, Jul. 11, 2019 1 week ago

Temple Sinai welcomes new rabbi

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Samantha Kahn replaced Rabbi Geoff Huntting on July 1.
by: Whitney Elfstrom Staff Writer

Samantha Kahn has always been deeply connected to her faith, from attending a reform Jewish day school in Miami to spending her Friday nights at family Shabbat dinner and proudly being known as “the Jewish kid” in high school.

Her lifelong love of her faith led her to Sarasota, where she recently started as Temple Sinai’s rabbi.

“I’m thrilled to be part of [Temple] Sinai because I believe that we’re a unique congregation in our ability to speak up and speak out about important issues,” Kahn said. “That is a tradition I plan to continue.”

Ordained in 2011, Kahn was the assistant rabbi at Congregation Emanu El in Houston. She worked at Interfaith Families in San Francisco and was the chair of the Board of Rabbis in California.

Growing up, she knew she wanted to become a Jewish professional but assumed that she would attend law school.

However, when she turned 20, she had a change of heart.

At 13, Kahn’s brother, Jesse, was hit by a truck while riding his bike, which sent him into a coma. A student at University of Florida at the time, Kahn headed home to Miami each weekend to see him.

Throughout the time at the hospital, Kahn said leaders from her family’s temple visited and spoke to her about how she was offering “pastoral care” to her family members.

“When I thought about what I wanted to do when I got older for the Jewish community, it was about advocacy and passion,” Kahn said. “But sitting there, comforting, counseling and consoling was a different experience, and sharing that, that too was very rabbinic and really transformed my ideas.”

It was through that awakening, in conjunction with watching her brother — who is now pursuing his doctorate in Miami — come out of his coma that she said she was filled with passion that sparked a theological struggle in her soul.

“My vision is to always, even in the hard moments, to be in awe that I get to be part of people’s lives and to find meaning in what I do every day,” Kahn said of her new position.

I’m the Sarasota community reporter, which means I cover the people, places and things of Sarasota. I graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a degree in journalism and digital communication and a minor in English. 

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