Rabbi Deborah J. Brin Pastoral Counseling & Spiritual Coaching ©2024 Rabbi Deborah J. Brin — Mishkan of the Heart
Rabbi Deborah J. Brin Albuquerque, New Mexico Pastoral Counseling & Spiritual Coaching
Rabbi Brin has been a really important part of my life. She supervised my conversion to Judaism, was a major support through my transition (I’m a transgender man), and did the wedding ceremony when my wife and I got married. We’ve also spent a lot of time together chilling with the Babylonian Talmud. If you have Big Life Stuff going on, or even if you don’t, you should talk to her. She listens very deeply, doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, and provides caring, calm reflection. She sees the big picture of my life in a way I don’t always. She’s also funny, down-to-earth, and good at Aramaic. How often do you hear that list of qualifications? At the time I met Rabbi Brin, I was a terrified twenty-year-old who had just moved cross- country with a partner who subsequently broke up with me. The members of Nahalat Shalom, with Rabbi Brin at the forefront, kind of picked me up out of the gutter, dusted me off, and told me everything would be okay. I wasn’t easy to get along with at that stage in my life, but Rabbi Brin’s warmth, guidance, and ability to approach discomfort without fear gave me confidence that things could get better. Which they did. Her steady presence was there, from hard times to easier ones, and gave me something to hold onto. I wasn’t born Jewish. When it was time, I talked to a few different people about supervising my formal conversion. Rabbi Brin was by far the best one for me. She drew me into lots of friendly, life-altering conversations about what it means to be Jewish and participate in Jewish life and ritual. My first large-scale exposure to Jewish life was through Chabad, and I was worried about all the things I needed to do and think and say to be a perfect Jew. Rabbi Brin helped me refocus on joining a beautiful and varied tradition, and finding my place within it. The conversion felt like coming home, and I still cry when I think about my immersions. Her broad view of Judaism, as well as her openness about her own experiences and practice, has profoundly influenced the way I think about ”doing Jewish.” A few years after I met Rabbi Brin, I was facing a big decision. I had been out as a lesbian for a long time, but I couldn’t ignore the pull to transition anymore. I wasn’t sure what to do. Rabbi Brin helped me sort through a variety of conflicting feelings and move forward with a clearer sense of who I am and what I want. Both when I was deciding to transition and when it came time for top surgery, she listened carefully and offered me new ways to think about seemingly insurmountable problems. She didn’t push me in any particular direction, but gave me a sense that my thoughts and decisions were valid, and that I could handle whatever I chose. At the time of my transition, I was teaching Hebrew school. She and a group of parents wrote an affirming and celebratory letter to help announce my transition to students and families, and conducted a discussion session for people who wanted to learn more about trans people in general. Since then, she has also developed and co-facilitated a presentation about gender and trans people in Talmud. In addition to providing personal support, she went out of her way to set up institutional support for my transition and for other trans people within the community. About four years ago, Rabbi Brin officiated at my wedding. My wife grew up in a very Jewish but not traditionally observant family. Her main exposure to Jewish ritual was going to seder every year at her aunts’ house. When we decided to get married, she was understandably nervous about the wedding, especially since I’m more traditional than she is. What exactly does a Jewish wedding look like? Does there have to be a lot of Hebrew? How do we make this a ceremony that is grounded in our heritage but also personally meaningful to us? Rabbi Brin made her feel totally at ease, and encouraged us to take an active role in developing the ceremony. She illustrated the different parts of a Jewish wedding, pointed out things we could add, take out, or change, and suggested books and other resources for us to look into. She helped us figure out logistical details we hadn’t even thought of. She spent time talking to us together and to each of us individually, using those conversations to put together a speech about us as a couple. Thanks to her expertise and effort, our wedding was awesome and a perfect fit for us. Friends and family still talk about it. All of which is just a long-winded way of saying that Rabbi Brin is a phenomenal counselor, life-cycle event coordinator, and overall Jewish resource. She’s knowledgeable, actively engaged in her own spiritual development, and exactly the kind of interested, caring listener/guide you want when . . . well . . . anything is happening. I recommend her highly. —Noah Bloom Click here to return to Testimonials

Testimonials — Noah Bloom

Rabbi Deborah J. Brin Pastoral Counseling & Spiritual Coaching
Rabbi Deborah J. Brin Pastoral Counseling & Spiritual Coaching ©2024 Rabbi Deborah J. Brin