Rabbi sees ‘Dancing’ Slot as an Opportunity to Bring Light into the World
Rachel Shere has a high-profile job as a rabbi at Adat Shalom. The synagogue in Farmington Hills traces its origins to 1943, when it first opened to the Jewish community in northwest Detroit. She’s also been a Dancing with the Detroit Stars contestant once before in, in 2015.
But that doesn’t mean she’s not nervous about her second spin around the dance floor as part of this year’s gala.
“I’m very nervous,” she says. “Dancing is completely outside of my comfort zone. I wouldn’t do it for any reason other than one I think is incredibly important. I can speak in front of thousands of people, but dancing in front of people is nerve wracking to me.”
Rabbi Shere, 45, has a long history with South Oakland Shelter, which merged with Lighthouse earlier this year. Adat Shalom has supported the organization for 15 years, and opens it doors to homeless guests for one week every year. She has also served on the SOS board for the past five years.
“It’s been fun,” Rabbi Shere said of training, which she’s doing at Arthur Murray. “I’m enjoying it. The fact that we need to actually perform a dance in front of people hasn’t really dawned on me yet. I’m enjoying learning the steps, but once I realize I need to do this in front of people I’ll be a little more nervous.”
Rabbi Shere, an alumna of the University of Michigan, where she majored in English and helped teach poetry to prison inmates. She earned her master’s in Hebrew letters from American Jewish University in Los Angeles. She studied at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem for a year and was ordained as a rabbi in 2004 from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, the same year she joined the Adat Shalom clergy.
She lives in West Bloomfield with her husband, three sons, a cat, dog and two fish.
An avid yoga practitioner, Rabbi Shere has helped launch twice-monthly classes that combine Torah study with gentle yoga at Adat Shalom. She participates in the yoga practice, though not as the teacher, and shares insights while participants go through the moves.
“It’s a way to bring together the body, mind and spirit,” Rabbi Shere says, with the focus on controlling one’s breath. “I think yoga and meditation can really help with our ability to think more clearly and be more healthy.”
For this year’s Dancing with the Detroit Stars event, Rabbi Shere will perform a dance that she said combines modern contemporary dance and samba, with a female partner and a male dancer joining at one point. She’s picked as her song “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys, which contains the lyric, “Looks like a girl, but she’s a flame.”
“The flame is a metaphor for the light each of us brings into the world,” she said.
“It embodies everything I believe about religion and our social justice imperative in the world. There’s a lot of darkness out there, and God is just waiting for us to shine our inner light into the world.”
Click here to purchase tickets for Dancing with the Detroit Stars to see Rabbi Shere and her fellow dancers compete Nov. 16 at the Townsend Hotel. Proceeds from the event will support Lighthouse’s efforts to fight hunger, homelessness and poverty in Oakland County.