Rabbi burnout is a real thing, and it’s more important than you think

Photo by Adam Kring/Unsplash

The high-holiday season is always been a stressful time for rabbis. Week after week, throughout September and October, they are busier than perhaps at any other time of the year. Congregation attendance numbers are at their peak, and congregants are calling them day and night with personal questions. Plus, back-to-school season means heightened stress for anyone with young families—rabbis included.

Now add the pandemic on top of that.

COVID-19 introduced a whole new set of problems: How do you keep your family safe when congregants want to meet in person? How do you navigate virtual sermons if you’re not tech-savvy? What can be done for rabbis’ mental health during these stressful times?

On today’s episode of Bonjour Chai, our weekly current-affairs podcast, we’re joined by Esther Altmann, a Montrealer living in New York who works as the ‬director of pastoral education at Yeshiva Maharat‭, to discuss how rabbinic burnout has been exacerbated by the pandemic, and what congregants can do to help.


Bonjour Chai is hosted by Avi Finegold and Ilana Zackon. Michael Fraiman is the producer. Andrew Goulet is the technical producer. Our theme music is by Socalled. The show is a co-production from The Jewish Learning Lab and The CJN, and is distributed by The CJN Podcast Network. Find more great Jewish podcasts at thecjn.ca.