Friends from University of Michigan
follow similar _path to the rabbinate.
ROBERT A. SKLAR
wo close friends since their college days in
Ann Arbor have shared a common career
path: becoming a Reform rabbi.
Pamela Barr Silk, 28, was one of 19 rabbis
ordained on May 31 at the Hebrew Union College-
Jewish Institute of Religion, the Reform movement's
Cincinnati-based seminary. Silk is now an assistant
rabbi at Congregation Emanu El, a 2,300-family
congregation in Houston.
Jennifer Tisdale, 26, is a student rabbi who will be
ordained at HUC-JIR next June. This fall, she will
intern at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield and the
Jewish Hospice and Chaplaincy Network, based in
Both have strong roots to metro Detroit.
Tisdale calls her friendship with Silk "the best part
of the story." The two met after Silk's second year
and Tisdale's first at the University of Michigan.
"Pam has taught me so much about the rabbinate
because she taught me so much about how to be a
good person," Tisdale said. "She gives love and kind-
ness and compassion so freely, and I admire her for
that. She also taught me how to lead with confi-
Silk said, "During our three years together in
Cincinnati, Jen has taught me a lot about generosity
of spirit and kindness.
"One thing that Jen taught me that I think about
regularly," Silk said, "is what it means to be
a nurturer, what it means to make the
world a less scary place for others."
Each has a master's degree in Hebrew
Letters from HUC-JIR.
Sumter, S.C. She
interned in Kansas City.
Her rabbinic thesis was
"A Biographical Analysis
of the Life and Career of
Rabbi Richard C. Hertz."
The late Rabbi Hertz was
a long-time spiritual
leader of Temple Beth El,
located in Detroit and
Silk is married to
Jeffrey Silk of Oak Park.
He will teach fifth grade
at Kolter Elementary
School in Houston this
fall. Silk has an identical
twin sister and an older
Silk said she pursued
the rabbinate by way of
the study of medicine.
entire life, I wanted to
Pamela Barr Silk and Jennz fer Tisdale
become a physician," she
said. "While working in
in the room for both the most difficult and joyous
Clinic of the University of Michigan Hospital, I rec-
times of life."
ognized that most of the physicians that I worked
Life's blessings are clearer since she became a con-
with often had to deliver bad news, like the diagnosis gregational rabbi. "Everyday, we experience bless-
of a terminal illness, and then leave the room to see
ings," Silk said. "The question is whether or not we
the next patient. It occurred to me that I wanted to
take the time and perspective to acknowledge them."
"One thing that Jen taught me that I
think about regularly is what it means
to be a nurturer, what it means to make
the world a less scary place for others."
Silk is the daughter of Andra and Bruce
Soble of Farmington Hills and Lewis Barr
and Sandra Harris of Cherry Hill, N.J. She
was born in Stamford, Conn., but grew up
in metro Detroit and attended Temple
Beth El. The Interlochen Arts Academy graduate
earned a bachelor's of science degree in biology in
1998 from U-M.
Her student pulpits were in Pine Bluff, Ark., and
Tisdale's parents are Yolanda and David Tisdale of
West Bloomfield. Her father is executive director
of Temple Israel. Tisdale attended Hillel Day
School of Metropolitan Detroit and West
Bloomfield High School before earning a bache-
lor's degree in Judaic Studies from the U-M in
1999. She spent one college semester in London,
— Pamela Barr Silk studying under and working for the London
Tisdale has served student pulpits in Pine
Bluff, Ark.; Steubenville, Ohio; and Clarksdale,
be the one who got to stay in the room to provide
Miss. Tisdale followed Silk in Pine Bluff In
care and support."
For Silk, "being a rabbi is the ultimate in staying
SPIRITUAL TIES on page 44