Hi! I’m Jesse Paikin, a rabbi at Washington D.C.’s Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. My work involves building community through learning, prayer, and ritual – largely with DC’s vibrant 20s & 30s community. I’m also a Rabbinic Fellow with the Jewish Emergent Network, a group of seven path‐breaking Jewish communities who have come together in the spirit of collaboration.
Judaism is a mindful reminder and an elaborate system of practice that shows me I am a part of something much, much bigger than myself. But it’s also a way for me to experience the closeness of community and know that I am not just one small speck in the universe. I became a rabbi because I wanted to figure out how to navigate the journey between the grandeur and awesomeness of the universe, and the holy importance of human-to-human relationships.
I love that no two days and no two hours of the same day are alike. My work is filled with meeting and learning from our inspiring community members, studying ancient texts that astonish me with their modern wisdom, engaging in spiritual practice to rejuvenate the soul, and extolling the virtues of the great Jewish gift that is the Montreal Bagel (look it up and figure out how to get one, you’ll be happy you did).
I’m a grateful citizen of Canada – originally from Toronto, and have lived in Montreal, Jerusalem, and New York City. I’ve worked with Jewish communities in Toronto, Be’er Sheva, Jerusalem, Belarus, Poland, The Czech Republic, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Westchester, and Albany.
Toronto’s York University is my alma mater, it’s where I studied Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Theatre. I received semikhah (rabbinic ordination), an MA in Hebrew Literature, and a Graduate Certificate in Jewish Education from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. I’ve also been privileged to study at Yeshivat Hadar, the National Theatre School of Canada, University of Toronto, and New York University.
Before heading to graduate school and becoming a rabbi, I spent five years working for a nonprofit that ran educational youth travel programs around the world. My professional work has involved creative design, social media & communications, staff training, curricular design, on-the ground leadership, and logistical planning.
Other things to know: Music listener. Band follower. Lover of the hidden FedEx arrow. Pluralist. Vegetarian pretending to be vegan. Hater of mediocrity. News junkie. Lighting designer. Photo grapher. Aspiring environmentalist. NYC lover. I went to Montessori – that explains a lot.
Some of what I’ve written has been graciously published by CCAR Press, Sh’ma, Jewschool, and the Times of Israel. Some of the photos I’ve taken have also been used by people cooler than me. If you want me to write something for you, or take some photos for you, we should talk.
And whatever you do, take care of your shoes.