Our story

YourJewish has been formed as a Minnesota nonprofit organization by Rabbi Jill Avrin and Steve Barberio, who have been working together since July 2023 to create a new Jewish organization that meets people where they are on their Jewish journey.

They first met and collaborated as members of the Bet Shalom Senior Staff from 2018 - 2023, working closely together before and during the pandemic. As they both transitioned out of their roles at Bet Shalom, they began to imagine a Jewish organization that could respond to the changing Jewish world, especially here in the Twin Cities.

Beginning in July of 2023, they began meeting with people inside and outside of their networks, exploring their ideas and creating a plan for building YourJewish. Throughout the fall of 2023, they started to build a plan for the first two years of programmatic engagement, while continuing to build a network of people who are interested in being involved. A Board of Directors is being developed and will become active in the coming weeks. If you are interested in the work we are doing and want to be part of our evolving story, please connect with us so we can take you out to coffee.

Background: Rabbi Jill Avrin and Steve Barberio

Jill grew up in an unaffiliated and interfaith family in the suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That meant that until high school, her primary connection to Judaism was through her personal network of family and friends. In high school she joined BBYO, which was open to all Jewish youth regardless of synagogue affiliation. As she became more involved in BBYO, she started to realize how isolating it was to be unaffiliated and wrestled with the fact that there were very few opportunities for unaffiliated Jews to engage in organized Jewish life.  Through this experience, she started to dream about one day becoming a rabbi to serve those like her, who did not belong to a synagogue.

Instead, her journey led her toward becoming more entrenched in institutional Jewish life. She went to college at the University of Minnesota and became active in Hillel, and started to work as a teacher and youth advisor at Bet Shalom Congregation in Minnetonka.  She worked at OSRUI and participated in a variety of URJ programs for young adults.  She fell in love with Reform Judaism and shortly after college, she started rabbinical school at HUC-JIR, first in Israel and then on the New York campus. 

Upon ordination, Jill returned to Bet Shalom to work as a rabbi and has spent the last ten years at the synagogue, first as the Rabbi Educator and then as the Associate Rabbi.  During that time, she became an active participant and leader in the broader community, serving as a Co-Chair of the Minnesota Rabbinical Association for three years.  She currently serves on the board of Minnesota Hillel, the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition, the Hopkins Race and Equity Initiative, and is the chair of the Overseas Committee of Minneapolis Jewish Federation.  As she makes this transition in her professional career she is excited to return to her original dream that led her to the rabbinate, validating the experiences of those who grew up like her, and finding new ways to meet the needs of those who choose an untraditional path. 

Steve Barberio

Steve was born and raised in the Twin Cities, growing up at Adath Jeshurun on Dupont Avenue in Minneapolis. He became active in Adath USY, taught theater at Camp Tikvah and Camp Herz, while studying at the Universities of Minnesota and Wisconsin. His first job out of college was teaching theater to youth at the Minneapolis JCC.  

Steve went on to enjoy a successful career in the nonprofit arts industry, with frequent stops working with Jewish cultural and educational institutions.  He was the artistic director of Stages Theatre Company for 17 years and led the effort to build the Hopkins Center for the Arts.  He served in leadership positions on many arts and arts education boards, locally and nationally. He has also led Jewish and performing arts organizations in Albuquerque, NM and Washington, D.C.