Rabbi Jill Berkson Zimmerman is a visionary with a plan and a lifelong seeker. She is dedicated to a Judaism that makes a difference in people’s every day lives; a Judaism based in mindfulness, and welcome.
At every step along the way, Jill has lived her vision of building and sustaining community, taking her from teacher, activist, organizational development consultant, local and national lay leader and master gardener, mother and wife culminating with her decision to become a rabbi at age 47.
In 1999, Jill was fortunate enough to study with Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, who opened up the world of Jewish mysticism, Chasidic texts, and Torah study. A light was ignited. With only a “culturally Jewish” background and a surface-level understanding, Rabbi Jill was deeply moved and intrigued. She felt that she had discovered a treasure in her own backyard. She immersed herself in Jewish study and practice, and ultimately decided to devote the “second half” of her life to Jewish teaching and learning and helping others find the joy and meaning she had found in Jewish texts, rituals, and community.
After her ordination in 2009 from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute for Religion, she served as a congregational rabbi at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills. Rabbi Jill’s position at Temple Emanuel was centered on building community and building membership. She revived the Caring Community and chavurot (friendship) circles, and worked with congregants on creating a welcoming atmosphere at the temple. She was blessed to work with Rabbi Laura Geller.
Rabbi Jill’s deep involvement in Jewish mindfulness and meditation led her to the two-year Clergy Leadership program in spiritual practice and mindful leadership from the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. In addition, she received a certificate from the Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teaching Training program.
In 2011, Rabbi Jill decided to leave the congregational rabbinate to laser-focus her energy on Jewish mindfulness: Judaism through the lens of mindfulness, and mindfulness through the perspective of Judaism. She founded The Jewish Mindfulness Network (JMN) to create a variety of welcoming experiences and environments to help people discover personal meaning within Jewish texts and the power of mindfulness practices within community. In 2016, Rabbi Jill created Hineni: the Mindful Heart Community, a digital online program.
She continues to teach locally and nationally, as well as offer online courses. She is also a frequent scholar-in-residence at congregations across the country.
Rabbi Jill has served congregations and Jewish organizations both in the States and in Israel. In addition to her position at Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills, CA (Director of Building Community and Membership), she worked with Temple Beth El in Riverside and Etz Rimon in Carlsbad, CA. In Jerusalem, she worked at the World Union for Progressive Judaism, assisting them in carrying out their Strategic Plan.
She is an avid photographer. She has an insatiable love of reading and books. Originally from Skokie, Illnois, Rabbi Jill currently lives in Orange County with her husband, Ely. They have two sons, Josh and Ben.