Rabbi Sandra Lawson to kick off Shir Hadash Speaker Series


Shir Hadash Reconstructionist Community, the only Reconstructionist congregation in the state of Missouri, will present a four-part Shabbat community education series to increase awareness and knowledge of this branch of Judaism. The series will take place one Shabbat per month, January through April, and will feature a national or local rabbinic scholar who will lead services and learning sessions focusing on Reconstructionist approaches to theology, Torah interpretation, Jewish history, freedom and inclusion, and civilization and culture. The community is invited to attend all services and programs.

Scholar-in-Residence Rabbi Sandra Lawson will kick off the series on Friday, Jan. 27, and Saturday, Jan. 28. A St. Louis native, Lawson is the inaugural Director of Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Reconstructing Judaism, the central organization of the Reconstructionist movement.

Shir Hadash is partnering with MaTovu for Friday evening’s Kabbalat Shabbat service and dinner with Lawson. The program will take place at MaTovu, 4200 Blaine Ave., St. Louis, MO 63110. Lawson will lead the service beginning at 6 p.m. She will discuss her Jewish journey from St. Louis to the Reconstructionist movement. The Shabbat dinner will follow. A vegetarian main course will be provided by MaTovu. Attendees are asked to contribute a side dish or dessert. Advance reservations are requested for dinner: https://www.matovustl.org/events/2023/1/27/kabbalat-shabbat-with-rabbi-sandra-lawson.

Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Lawson will lead a hybrid Shabbat morning service at Shir Hadash, which meets in the Arts and Education Building at The J’s Staenberg Family Complex, 2 Millstone Campus Dr. The service can also be attended virtually via Zoom. Lawson will discuss “Jewish theology in general and Reconstructionist theology in particular.” Immediately following the service and kiddush, Lawson will lead a Lunch and Learn program focusing on the week’s Torah portion, Bo, in a Reconstructionist fashion. A vegan lunch with a gluten free option will be provided free of charge. RSVP required at https://www.shirhadashstl.info/events/lawsonshabbat or via e-mail to [email protected].

Rabbi Sandra Lawson was born in St. Louis to a military family and served in the military herself. She earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in sociology prior to enrolling in the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. She was ordained in June 2018. Lawson is a sought-after speaker and has a substantial social media presence as the Snapchat Rabbi and TikTok Rabbi. She currently resides in North Carolina with her wife, Susan, and three “fur babies” Izzy, Bridget and Simon.

Future programs in the series will be as follows:

  • Saturday, Feb. 25, at 10 a.m. – Shir Hadash Rabbi Emeritus Lane Steinger will lead the Shabbat morning service and Torah discussion on parsha Terumah, followed by a Lunch and Learn focusing on the Reconstructionist approach to Jewish History.
  • Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1 – Dr. Koach Baruch (KB) Frazier, a fourth year student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, will lead a Kabbalat Shabbat service at MaTovu on Friday evening focusing on “Freedom through a Reconstructionist Lens.” The next morning at Shir Hadash he will lead a Shabbat service and Torah discussion centered on Shabbat HaGadol. A Lunch and Learn following the service will examine how inter-generational and inter-racial communities can become truly inclusive.
  • Saturday, April 22, at 10 a.m. – Shira Singelenberg, a third year student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, will lead a Shabbat service and Torah discussion of parsha Tazriya-Metzora, followed by a Lunch and Learn exploring “Judaism as an evolving religious civilization: the culture wars inside me.”

The Shir Hadash community education series has been made possible, in part, by an Anything Grant from the Staenberg Family Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis.

For more information on the education series or about Shir Hadash visit shirhadashstl.info or contact [email protected].