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Rabbi Lia Bass became the spiritual leader of Congregation Etz Hayim in August of 2001. She strives to build a shared vision between Rabbi, congregation and community. She finds joy and fulfillment from the warmth and friendliness of our members with whom she creates wonderful relationships.

Rabbi Bass, born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
is the first woman from Brazil to be ordained as a Rabbi, and the first female Conservative Rabbi in Northern Virginia. She speaks Portuguese, Spanish, English, and Hebrew. She holds degrees in Guidance Counseling, Education, and Hebrew as a Second Language. She was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York and served as a Dorot Fellow at the National Center for Learning and Leadership under Rabbi Yitzhak Greenberg, and as Rabbi-in-Residence and teacher of Talmud at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County, New Jersey, as well as the Pulpit Rabbi (rabbinic intern) at conservative congregations in the greater New York City area, including B'nai Jeshurun on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

At B'nai Jeshurun, Rabbi Bass worked with Rabbi Roly Matalon, one of the charismatic leaders of the Jewish spiritual renaissance. Rabbi Matalon sent many people to Rabbi Bass for counseling, and gives high praise to her skill and warmth. Rabbi Bass brings some of the special ruach (spirit) of B'nai Jeshurun, including beautiful melodies for the Kabbalat Shabbat services and a deep commitment to tikkun olam (healing the world).

Rabbi Bass is also a gifted artist and gourmet vegetarian chef. Her silk paintings, pottery, and needlework adorn her home, which she opens up to the congregation for joyful events such as Shabbat dinners and Torah study. She taught our B'nai Mitzvah and adult education students to make their own tallitot.

Rabbi Bass is a warm, caring person and a sensitive counselor with superb Rabbinic and educational credentials. The youth of our synagogue describe her as “really cool!” But perhaps of all her achievements, the one that makes her most proud is her son Benjamin.