Long before I was known as Rabbi Annette Koch, I was known as a mother, a friend, an attorney, a volunteer. Though I have grown over the years and my understanding of myself has deepened, my commitment to Jewish life has never changed. As a parent, the values of our tradition were part of my family’s foundation. In my practice as an attorney, I knew that the Jewish values of honesty and integrity applied to the workplace as well as in the home. My Jewish identity found expression at my Temple, as a volunteer and lay leader, as a worshipper and as an adult learner. I came to realize that Jewish values formed the core of my identity, and I yearned to share with others my passion for Judaism, and for the Jewish people. I finally took seriously the suggestion of one of my rabbinic mentors to consider becoming a rabbi. I have never looked back.
From my years at Hebrew Union College and my experience leading congregations, I have learned how to speak and teach about God, how to enhance our awareness of God’s presence in our lives, how to help us connect with that spark of the divine in every human heart. Those years also fanned the sparks of my passion for Israel into a steadily burning flame of lifelong commitment.
These core lessons have become the focus of my rabbinate. Our tradition teaches that the world rests on three things: on Torah – the renewal and meaning we derive from a life of ongoing study and discovery; Avodah – the enhancement of our lives through engaging communal worship and meaningful lifecycle rituals, and Gimilut Chasadim – the acts of kindness and love that bind us to one another as individuals, as community, and as the people Israel.