Har Sinai Congregation in Owings Mills, Marlyand welcomed Nina Pachino as its new director of the Posner JEM religious school and family programming last month.
Pachino comes to Har Sinai after five years as the principal of Temple Solel in Bowie. Originally from Huntington Valley, Pa., Pachino graduated from Penn State University before moving to Baltimore. Over the last 12 years, Pachino has also served as the youth director at both Temple Emanuel and Temple Oheb Shalom (where she also served as the assistant director of the religious school). Her move to Har Sinai, she said, will bring her closer to home. Pachino is married to Michael Pachino, an events DJ, and has two daughters, Maddie and Winnie.
“I like to make Judaism relevant for everyday Jewish kids,” Pachino told the JT. “I try to, you know, make it fun and engaging and bring the joy back.”
Har Sinai is not Pachino’s first small congregation. But rather than take for granted the built-in sense of community that often comes with a congregation of that size, Pachino hopes to engage the families in programming outside of the building. But what such programming will look like is still up in the air.
“Every community is different,” she said. “Right now, I don’t know what my strategies will be until I start talking and meeting with people.”
At her last congregation, Pachino said, changes she made to the format of Friday-night services created a signficant uptick in attendance. It’s the kind of small, common-sense change she’d like to see at Har Sinai as well.
“We are extremely excited to have Nina here,” said Rabbi Linda Joseph of Har Sinai. “We’re hoping she can bring that creativity and energy which she so clearly has to our community.”
As for her future students, Pachino says, her goals for them are simple: “I hope that they have more fun, that when they walk in the building they’re always smiling, ready to be with their Jewish friends, and look forward to learning something new.”