Rabbi Adam Stock Spilker
Being a yenta is hard work, but arranging a shiddach for someone’s heart and for their career is quite rare. The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism has played just such role in almost every aspect of Rabbi Adam Stock Spilker’s life, from helping him fuse his passion for social justice with his Judaism to introducing him to his wife.
Rabbi Spilker, who has been rabbi at Mount Zion Temple in St. Paul, Minn., for the last 14 years, spent a summer interning at the RAC before heading off to Duke University. It was at the RAC that he met another intern, Rachel, who became a cantor, his wife, and a colleague at Mount Zion Temple.
Rabbi Spilker was in college when he and a friend started a Habitat for Humanity chapter and, through that initiative, became involved in addressing poverty in the local community. After bonding with men at a homeless shelter in the area, he planned a program to teach his peers about homelessness and disabuse them of their preconceptions and stereotypes. Rabbi Spilker calls this program was one of the most profound experiences in his social justice journey. “I’ve come to really believe in the meaning and power of relationships for organizing anything, especially the power to create change in our society,” he says.
Rabbi Spilker has applied that theory to his rabbinate, where he has overseen a “Year of Justice” initiative that led the congregation to host a homeless shelter in its building and inspired a new way of engagement in the congregation. Mount Zion Temple is focusing on tzedek for 18 months as part of its comprehensive seven-year vision for congregational life. Rabbi Spilker will lead the community in six months of reflection on the meaning of tzedek and planning for the next 12 months, which will see an implementation of his community’s answer to the question of what tzedek really means.
Rabbi Spilker is a member of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism (CSA), which he was motivated to join because of “the clear memory of how meaningful it is to be on the CSA,” which he witnessed during his time as a RAC intern. He was inspired by the drive that comes from “passionate, committed, fascinating people coming together to address some of the most pressing issues.”
“[Social justice] is central to who I am as a human being: the sense that the world is not yet perfect and needs our human hands to help massage its way toward being a better place,” Rabbi Spilker explains.
“The RAC really was instrumental in helping me focus this, not only as a person but as a Jew, and the rest is history,” he adds.