Cookie Lea Olshein
In May of 2006, Rabbi Olshein received a Master's of Arts in Hebrew Letters degree from HUC-JIR, at which time she also received the Cantor William Sharlin Award for Excellence in Liturgy. After completing her rabbinic thesis on the topic of Synagogue Transformation and Change Issues (with a focus on the use and effects of technology in worship), she was ordained as a Rabbi by HUC-JIR in May of 2008.
While at Congregation Beth Israel in Austin, Texas, Rabbi Olshein shared all pulpit and life cycle responsibilities with the senior rabbi. In the greater Austin Jewish community, Rabbi Olshein as an ex-officio member of the Board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Austin and initiated a partnership with Jewish Family Services to create and co-facilitate a community-wide Jewish Chronic Illness/Cancer Support Group. She was actively involved with the Austin Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and participated in a variety of social action, arts and music, and multi-faith activities in the community through iACT (Interfaith Action of Central Texas) and other organizations.
Now at Temple Israel of West Palm Beach, Florida, Rabbi Olshein serves as an executive committee member (currently treasurer, formerly secretary) of the Palm Beach County Board of Rabbis and is active with the City of West Palm Beach's Mayor's Interfaith Advisory Council. Upon her arrival, Rabbi Olshein created an ongoing partnership with CROS (Christians Reaching Out to Society) Ministries to create a neighborhood Food Pantry at the Urban League Community Resource Center. She also works with the MLK Coordinating Committee to facilitate Temple Israel's annual MLK Interfaith Freedom Shabbat Celebration. Rabbi Olshein was awarded the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County's inaugural Tikkun Olam/Community Service Award in 2016.
Rabbi Olshein received an Interfaith New Clergy Program Fellowship from Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York, and is currently a member of Chautauqua Institution’s Interfaith Clergy Alumni Program Leadership Team. Additionally, she has been selected as an instructor for the Special Studies Department at Chautauqua Institution and has lectured at the Chautauqua's Everett Jewish Life Center.
Rabbi Olshein’s professional passions include teaching adult education, organizing and leading congregational Jewish music, bringing awareness to local and international social justice issues through her work with American Jewish World Service and other organizations, creating interfaith opportunities for dailogue and worship, and facilitating workshops on spirituality in everyday life. Her own "Jewish journey" was featured in the URJ's Reform Judaism magazine (http://rjmag.org/Articles/index.cfm?id=1267).
In her spare time, Rabbi Olshein enjoys crocheting handmade kippot (one of her kippot is currently on display in the Jewish Museum of Berlin); taking gourmet cooking classes, and planning meaningful travel all over the world. In recent years, she has spent her vacation time as an official chaplain for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, as the rabbi on cruise ships in the Caribbean and Mediterranean for Passover and Chanukah, and as a guest rabbi in Auckland, New Zealand, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Erie, Pennsylvania.