070920 SYV Jewish Community

Religious leader Ravi Deborah Lewis will preside over the Santa Ynez Valley Jewish community starting in August.

The Santa Ynez Valley Jewish Community has announced the appointment of new religious leader Ravi Deborah Lewis to preside over the Valley parish starting in August.

A spokeswoman for the Jewish community said Lewis, from Santa Barbara, will lead the local Jewish community on a part-time basis through virtual platforms to ensure the safety of parish members due to the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis. 

In her new capacity as Rabbi, Lewis will provide chaplaincy support, conduct Shabbat (Sabbath) services one Friday evening per month and lead a Saturday morning Adult Education session. She also will preside over important events in the Jewish calendar that include the upcoming Jewish High Holy Days in September, and hold in-person services in the Santa Ynez Valley for Interfaith Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Passover.

Lewis has served as the Clinical Chaplaincy intern for the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara for the past two years while acting concurrently as the conversion coordinator at Congregation B’nai Brith in Santa Barbara where she teaches an annual Practical Judaism Class. And she has been an instructor at the Florence Melton School of Adult Education for the past two years.

With the objective of celebrating freedom for all during America's Independence Day, local rights group Colors of the Valley—also responsible for assembling the Buellton solidarity protest in June—organized a Pride March at Solvang Park on July 4.

Lewis has a bachelor’s degree in Jewish Studies from Gratz College in Melrose Park, Pennsylvania and will complete ordination in May 2021 with a master’s in arts from the Academy of Jewish Religion in Los Angeles.

In her free time, Lewis enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her wife Traci and their three dogs Lucy, Harvey, and Mia.

We had a snooker table in our basement when I was growing up: a classic 1917 Brunswick, solid oak, two-inch thick slate in three sections, knitted pockets, and perfectly cushioned rails. It was there I learned the game, and marveled at witnessing the delicate touch and utter control my father had over the spin, movement and placement of the balls.

An outcome of our self isolation has been an increase in my television consumption and, no surprise here, I’m close to OD-ing on cooking shows. One caught my attention, it’s a PBS offering, Julia Child’s Best Bites. 

Lisa André covers Valley Life for Santa Ynez Valley News.