Expanded Spirit
 
 

Eva Robbins

Rabbi    Cantor    Artist

 
 
 
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Rabbi Eva is a cantor, teacher, facilitator, artist, author, Reiki master, and spiritual guide to enhance the liminal moments of our lives, as well as support others on their journey of expressed desire and the unexpressed hidden soul's longing.

“As we travel through life, we face moments of change, challenge, and transformation. Each and every one of us has the ability to continually grow and expand spirit, expressing one's true soul and becoming the fulfillment of who they should be.” Judaism is a deep well of wisdom, guidance, and resource for mind, body, and spirit. As the above scroll exemplifies, the text is a vast blazing black fire of wisdom, direction, and inspiration, while all the background is the white fire, the negative space that is pregnant with meaning, understanding, and profound interpretation.

Our Torah represents the words of the Divine in three important themes - Creation, Revelation, and Redemption, as well as through history and the story of our ancestors, key moments of holiness, metaphors of deep personal meaning, and symbols of higher purpose. It is a living guide and deep source to inspire, teach and elevate.

The Jewish calendar is a pathway through time and space; by means of ritual and understanding it enriches the life of each person who engages with it. "The cycle of the year, with all of its particular and unique moments mark the expression of the full gamut of emotions - joy, gratitude, good fortune, sadness, grief, regret.” The calendar is a way to connect with our sisters and brothers throughout the world and lift time in sacred affirmation.

Rabbi and Cantor Eva is an ambassador for this special treasure that has existed for thousands of years. Through teaching, guidance, facilitating and officiating, she enriches the critical moments we all face, both the joy and the sadness that encompass a life well-lived. "Each moment we encounter has the potential for K'dushah, holiness, and ensuring that our soul expand.”

 
 
Ketubah  signing brings joy and laughter to all.

Ketubah signing brings joy and laughter to all.

 
 

Background

Rabbi Eva is a graduate of the Academy for Jewish Religion, a Transdenominational Seminary in Los Angeles, first as Cantor in 2004 and then as Rabbi in 2015. She is a member of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, The Cantors Assembly and on the Board of the Sandra Kaplan Transdenominational Beit Din. She works part-time for Congregation N'vay Shalom, a community co-founded with her husband, Rabbi Stephen Robbins, as well as serving other Jews in the Los Angeles community, teaching and performing life cycle ceremonies with her spiritual and creative approach. She received her Bachelors of Arts degree, Summa Cum Laude, from the University of Cincinnati in 1972 with a major in Psychology followed by two years of graduate work in Group and Interpersonal Communication. While in Cincinnati she participated in leadership training with NTL, National Training Laboratories, honing her skill in group facilitation, guiding others in effective listening and communication. She taught an introductory course in group and interpersonal communication at her alma mater before moving on to Berkeley California in 1973.

Rabbi Eva considers herself a late bloomer, as her soon to be published memoir describes. As an introvert and insecure young woman, she completed her high school years prepared to become a secretary, and later in her adult years, returned to high school and long-distance learning opportunities, 'correspondence courses,' to pick up the necessary requirements to finally enter college and graduate Phi Beta Kappa. "It is never too late to follow your dreams and take the necessary steps to enhance your life."

In Berkeley California, Eva supported her husband's work as Hillel Director, had their first child Rachael, and opened a door to Jewish expansion, learning how to chant Torah and finally to express her deep passion, singing the music of her ancestors. Her first notes were chanting the Kol Nidre to the Hillel students, tapping into the lost voices of her family and the others who died in the Holocaust.

After the birth of Rachael, an experience that "helped me to touch the Divine and know the power of creating," she studied the art of hand crafts - embroidery, quilting and applique, inspired by her grandmother Bubbe Faye. "Watching her hour after hour create beautiful tablecloths inspired me to want to continue expressing the joy of creativity." Unexpectedly it launched her into a whole new enterprise, making Jewish ritual objects out of textiles. She sustained a successful small business of commissions by individuals, families and institutions while raising two more children, Jesse and Naomi. She discovered a desire to enhance the world after the darkness of her families experience. As a child of Holocaust survivors, her Post-Holocaust Mezzuzah became a symbol of this need and is a reflection of her desire to bring light, color, and unity into the world that had seen such horrific human suffering. 

In 1993 Rabbi Eva graduated from UCLA Department of Interior Design and was about to launch her new design service, when she and her husband leaped into the unknown and created N'vay Shalom, a synagogue dedicated to family education, spirituality, and mystical studies. Together they officiated and taught. This opened another door that led to her Cantorial studies. Due to a limited budget, she volunteered to lead services which culminated in her Master's in Sacred Music and full-time Cantorial work.

In 2005, after the loss of her father, her husband Steve became seriously ill. This was another life altering opportunity knowing that if she wanted to continue her work she would have to hire a Rabbi or become one. Rabbi Eva chose the latter, as is always her way; "In times of difficulty and challenge we have an opportunity to rise higher, face our fears, and leap into the unknown. Becoming a Rabbi was not a childhood dream, but I saw it as an opportunity to expand my skill and be able to continue to dedicate myself to this holy work, despite the stress of facing loss that my husband's critical illness brought into my life."

Talmud teaches that, "Who is wise? The one who is willing to learn from everyone... Who is honored? The one who gives honor to others." (Pirkei Avot 4:1) With her humble, caring and spiritual approach, she guides others in their family life-cycle moments and their own personal journeys.

 
 

"Rabbi and Cantor Eva is a rarity. She combines scholarly insight, creative mind and feminine wisdom with a gracious heart. My life and work is fully enhanced by her sharing her talent and her presence."

  Lauren Kasmer

 
 

Life's journey

From the moment of my birth, in Stockholm, Sweden, after the Holocaust, I understood my value, both to heal the horror and darkness of my parents suffering, as survivors of Hitler's hatred of the Jew, and to bring light and love into the world.

As a child of Holocaust survivors I grew up and instinctively understood the hidden and mysterious past that my parents did not want to share with their children. I came to understand, on a cellular level, that I was to help heal my family's pain and provide some semblance of peace, pride, and calm. I also learned early on that as a woman, both in my religious tradition and socio-cultural milieu in the 50's and 60's, that there were doors closed to me and it was best to keep a low profile with minimum ambitions and a piercing silence. The teachers in my Hebrew school reinforced this limited view of my place in the world so I did not have the luxury of fantasizing or expecting great things for myself. 

It was easy to develop a powerful sense of insecurity which drove me to seek out a conventional and traditional place as a woman and suppress my authentic affinity and passion for music, deep into the recesses of my soul. This also led me to a disastrous first marriage with a verbally abusive husband, challenging myself to find my spark of strength and hope to begin a process of transformation, as described in my memoir, soon to be published, Alchemy of Darkness, Transformation of Spirit.

I have come to understand that even in the darkest moments and under the most difficult circumstances each and every one of us can discover the courage to change and support our soul's expression. That is why I call my work 'Expanded Spirit,' for there is unlimited possibilities to who we can become and where we can travel on our journeys.

I have been fortunate to have met my soul-mate and second husband, Steve, who encouraged, supported and helped to widen the path to fulfillment and open unexpected doors. His love opened a channel that made anything possible and everything extraordinary. After 33 years of marriage, we both confronted his critical illness with major medical challenges, beginning a new chapter in my life as a caregiver and setting me on top of a jagged precipice, where again, I faced the ultimate choice - accept the inevitable or move beyond to a new destination - the Rabbinate.

I have found that great difficulty, hardship, and pain can be a doorway to wisdom, opportunity, and new found joy.

We all come to face little deaths and unexpected changes. Life is a continual journey, often presenting a fork in the road offering either complacency and comfort or entering into the unknown and the unexpected. Aging, as well, brings new challenges and our often avoided confrontation with death. We can survive and thrive; choosing to enhance our lives with tools that build resilience and envelops us with grace. I share my vision for this inevitable future in my upcoming publication, SOAR, Aging with Grace and Resilience.

Judaism teaches we are body and soul - physical and spiritual. Even as our bodies diminish our spirits can grow, deepen, and experience more and more light.

Join me through study, experiential learning, and enhanced life cycle moments to expand your spirit.

 
 
 

"Rabbi Eva became a sounding board for my daughter as she handled both life issues and Bat Mitzvah prep at sixteen. The joy she had working with Ryan and helping her grow was truly wonderful for our family to experience."

Cindy Abrams

 

"Every moment is an opportunity for growth, transformation and expanding spirit."