Rabbi Katie Bauman

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Rabbi Katie Bauman, associate rabbi at Temple Israel

Who I am…

My name is Katie Bauman. I’m a rabbi at Temple Israel in Memphis and I’m originally from Little Rock, Arkansas.

What led me here…

I’ve a strong passion for building Jewish community. I’ve always had that since I was a child growing up.

In the South, there are not many large Jewish communities, and so growing up in a very small one, I always looked to Memphis and to Temple Israel in particular as sort of a center. I was lucky to form relationships with clergy here and the congregation, and the timing worked out that I was able to come here as a rabbi.

How faith plays a role in my work…

My work as a rabbi is multi-faceted. I do spend a lot of time with families and with individuals as they face crises in their lives, and those include health crises and also other, other things that come along. It kind of runs the gambit from the most joyful times to the hardest times and everything in between.

I define healthcare as…

My definition of healthcare is the care provided to individuals to keep them whole, whether it’s their body in need of … wholeness or healing, or their mind or spirit.

One of Memphis’ greatest healthcare challenges is…

I think Memphis has shared healthcare challenges with every city in America, but it also has some unique ones. Memphis has a large percentage of its population that lives below the poverty line that struggles to find adequate healthcare.

I think Memphis is unique in that the faith community plays such a large role in evaluating and coping with the healthcare crisis that every place faces.

But what Memphis healthcare is doing right is…

I believe that using this powerful organizing mechanism of faith mobilizes people here in Memphis.

I don’t know if that happens everywhere, but people sort of understand the companionship of faith and health here.

The biggest challenge in my healthcare work is…

In my community, the challenges are probably different than in some other faith communities. There are a lot of doctors in this community, there are a lot of healthcare workers.

I think the challenges that I see in my community mostly have to do with the willingness to admit that you might need healing of your soul, of your spirit. That being broken and being weak is a natural part of life and that your community can be there for you during that time.

That’s an unfamiliar mode for most people who are self-sufficient and well-educated and have full lives and have enough money to do what they want to do.

The greatest reward in my healthcare work is…

Having the privilege to witness the resilience of people when they’re confronted with the fact that their body is rebelling against them somehow, or they can’t always fix it, they’re not always going to get well, or sometimes they’re looking at a life that’s drastically different than what they had imagined.

And to be with them as they go through that, to watch them draw on resources within them that they never knew they had before, draw on their tradition, draw on their religion, feeling connected to something bigger because they understand how small we all are, the permission to accompany them on that journey, I think, is my greatest reward.

Learn more about Temple Israel.

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