In retrospect, she was always searching. When she was eleven years old and precocious, Rabbi Kerry Chaplin asked the director of her Hebrew school to create a separate class for the kids who actually wanted to learn.
One particular moment fomented Rabbi Kerry’s desire to work with addicts and the disenfranchised. Four or five years ago, during the High Holy days, she was sitting with her brother, a recovering addict, talking. He said of his own experience, “As I look around, it seems like most of the folks in recovery haven’t done the work. It is hard to do the repentance work when you look around and don’t have the sense that everyone’s doing it, that you are alone in the process.” It struck a chord in Rabbi Kerry, and she realized that she wanted to be in a place where people are doing the work, repenting together, supporting one another. What better place than Beit T’Shuvah?
Rabbi Kerry received a Bachelor’s Degree in Religious Studies and a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management from Washington University in St. Louis. She was ordained in 2015 at the Zeigler School for Rabbinic Studies. Rabbi Kerry then became one of the Jewish Emergent Network ‘s first cohort of rabbinic fellows. The Jewish Emergent Network’s fellowship program aims to create the next generation of risk-taking, change-making rabbis. Rabbi Kerry comes to BTS from her two-year fellowship at New York City’s Lab/Shul, which describes itself as “an artist-driven, everybody-friendly, God-optional, pop up, experimental community for sacred Jewish gatherings based in NYC and reaching the world.” Like Beit T’Shuvah, Lab/Shul pushes the envelope of what an American Jewish community might look like.
Rabbi Kerry and Rabbi Mark agree that addicts are seekers. She says, “It is such a gift for anyone, especially a rabbi, to work with people who are seekers.” Beit T’Shuvah’s residents seek answers, seek transformation, seek a better way of living. Rabbi Kerry is happy to provide spiritual guidance as these seekers work to find their way. Rabbi Kerry has been a spiritual counselor here for just over one month. She particularly likes BTS’s culture of transparency and community.
“People genuinely seem to care about each other at Beit T’Shuvah,” she says. “I look forward to working as a spiritual counselor here and seeing how my role develops over time.”