Rabbi Jill Berkson Zimmerman is a visionary with a plan and a lifelong seeker. She is dedicated to making Judaism accessible and that makes a difference in people’s everyday lives. Rabbi Jill’s approach to Judaism is informed by mindfulness, welcome and activism.
At every step along the way, Jill has lived her vision of building and sustaining community. Her journey has included roles as a teacher, activist, Organizational Development consultant, local and national lay leader in the Reform movement, and entrepreneur. She has been a master gardener, finding deep spiritual connection with her hands in the soil.
All of these life experiences led to her decision to go to rabbinical school when she was 47 years old.
A Seminal Experience
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. Because Rabbi Jill grew up in a “culturally Jewish” home, she was not introduced to the deeper wisdom that Judaism offers. When she met Rabbi Kushner and began to study, she felt as if she had discovered a hidden treasure in her own backyard.
From this moment on, Jill immersed herself in Jewish study and practice, and ultimately decided to devote the “second half” of her life to helping others find the joy and meaning she had found.
After her ordination in 2009 from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute for Religion, she served as an Assistant Rabbi at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills. There, Rabbi Jill’s position at Temple Emanuel was Director of Building Community & Growing Membership, a new role created especially with her talents in mind. She revived the Caring Community and chavurot (friendship) circles. Jill worked with congregants on creating a welcoming atmosphere. 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 at 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 Path With Heart (formerly called The Jewish Mindfulness Network) 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 a community.
Hineni: A Unique Spiritual Community
In 2016, Rabbi Jill created Hineni: Your Path To Presence, a virtual spiritual community.
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 work at Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills, CA, she worked with Temple Beth El in Riverside and Etz Rimon in Carlsbad, CA. In Jerusalem, she worked for the World Union for Progressive Judaism, assisting them in carrying out their Strategic Plan.
She is an avid photographer. She loves reading, knitting, gardening and walking among the trees. Originally from Skokie, Illinois, Rabbi Jill currently lives in Northern California with her husband, Ely. They have two grown sons. And their “Twitter-famous” Labradoodle, Bo.