What brings people who have been life-long warm weather West Coast residents to Minnesota? Rabbi Jacob and Julie Rupp may be wondering the same thing in a few months. The Rupps are the new executive directors of Aish Minnesota. We talk about why the Rupps chose Minnesota, what led Jacob to the rabbinate, and the Jewish journey that brought the two of them to this point, on this week’s Who The Folk?! Podcast.
You can read an excerpt below, but for the whole interview (which you are really going to want to hear; these two are GREAT), please listen or subscribe to the Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Stitcher, with more to come later soon. Please subscribe, rate, and review. And of course, if you have suggestions of others who would be great subjects, let us know!
Welcome to town!
Julie Rupp: Thank you! We’re getting adjusted to our new surroundings.
Jacob Rupp: Like, there’s weather here. It’s raining. I don’t know what’s going on.
Where was your last stop?
Julie: We’ve been in San Diego for the past four years. And then before that, we were in L.A., so we’re very much Southern California through and through. So this is a massive change for us. but we’re excited to be here.
What was it about coming to Minnesota? What was it about the Twin Cities that really appealed to you and where you were hoping to, you know, whether either career or personal or family that you were hoping to like advance?
Julie: Well, the truth is that we really were not looking to leave California, it was never on our radar. We didn’t want to leave the West Coast. But then Jacob was in touch with someone and somehow this job opportunity came up. And we kind of just looked at each other and we knew we’re ready for a change on a lot of different levels. And so we said sure, why not? Let’s just go check it out for the weekend. And when we came to interview the first time it was just a very far out thought; we never really thought we’d consider it seriously. But when we came out here we both kind of looked at each other on the airplane ride home and we said whoa, this is kind of problematic because we actually really loved it.
Jacob: We loved the people so much that as we’re hugging goodbye at the airport, we’re like ‘wow this is going to be super awkward if we never see them again.’
Jacob, when did you know that you wanted to be a rabbi?
I remember I was driving in my 1990 Volkswagen van, on a place called Nature Valley Road in Walnut Creek, Calif. It was raining. My grandmother had sent my mother tapes from their rabbi, Ed Feinstein at in Valley Beth Shalom in Los Angeles. And I heard him the first time, and I felt like he moved me. I really wanted to do impactful work, but I never realized that Judaism and being a rabbi was part of it. So I remember hearing that I didn’t know much about Judaism, frankly. But I knew there is such thing as a rabbi and I knew that rabbis talk to people and help them out. And then I heard this Rabbi and it’s funny – you never realize how certain influences in your early life shape you. And so it’s like, I’ve been pursuing that dream of impacting people now for two decades.
So what kind of Judaism did you grow up with in your house?
I was raised by Bay Area feminists. And I grew up in a reform synagogue, my father was like a Rush Limbaugh 1980s, conservative white man, you know, and so I did have the wide gamut of, of interactions. We were raised in a reform synagogue, my grandparents were part of a conservative synagogue in Los Angeles. And I sort of knew there are these things called Orthodox Jews that we descended from at some point based on the black and white pictures on our walls. Julie has a similar story to this in a lot of ways. But my mom had to bribe me to go to post Hebrew school education in our middle school program. So I was definitely not into Judaism, but I was proud of being Jewish and knew that it was something that made me unique.
Julie, what was your path?
I’m very, very different. I am originally Hungarian. I was born in Hungary and my family moved when I was 7. And so we grew up in a completely secular household. We had nothing. I mean, no Rosh Hashanah, no Yom Kippur, nothing. And I knew I was Jewish, and I was very into it. Just, I guess, my soul was always calling to me Jewishly, but I never had a way to practice. So when I went to college, I got involved in Hillel.
Jacob, you have a podcast as well. Can you plug that for us?
My podcast is called Lift Your Legacy. The name came from my wife and I have the opportunity to interview people that offer value to – either through the Jewish lens or to the Jewish market – in a variety of areas, which frankly, I find most interesting. Those would be in mental health and personal development, physical health and physical development, business, and the contribution you make to the world or the family in your personal life. So check it out on iTunes, Spotify. And @RabbiJacobRupp and I do a lot of plugging on Instagram, Facebook, you name it.Click here to nominate your favorite TC Jew to be featured on our weekly Who the Folk?! series!