CCAR Press’s Editor, Rabbi Annie Villarreal-Belford, provides a glimpse into her new role and past experience, recommends some of her favorite CCAR Press books, and shares some of her other interests and hobbies.
Tell us about your job as CCAR Press Editor. What is your role at the Press?
As the new Editor at CCAR Press, I am working as part of a team focused on producing books that both support Reform communities and reflect the ideas, theologies, congregations, and clergy of those communities. I have the opportunity to work with our incredible members and ensure Reform rabbis’ voices are uplifted, and I serve as a developmental editor of our books to help the clarity and impact of those voices.
What attracted you to CCAR Press?
In so many ways, working at CCAR Press feels like a homecoming. I was a writing major in college and worked as a rabbinic intern for two years at the URJ Press under Rabbi Hara Person, now Chief Executive of the CCAR. In just the short time I have been at CCAR Press, I have been deeply impressed with the Press staff and their commitment to our mission and incredible knowledge base. To put even more icing on this very sweet cake, the staff of the CCAR has been gracious, welcoming, and encouraging.
You were previously the rabbi at Temple Sinai in West Houston. How does your experience as a congregational rabbi inform your editing approach?
Servings as a congregational rabbi for the past eighteen years in both small and large congregations has given me a unique perspective and insight into the nitty-gritty details of how rabbis and congregants might use our books. I feel quite lucky to have not only my personal experience as a congregational rabbi, but also the many voices of colleagues and congregants, shaping my approach.
Do you have a favorite CCAR Press book?
This is truly an impossible question to answer! If you looked at my library, you would see that my traveler’s edition of Mishkan T’filah is so well-loved that the binding is broken! I am deeply grateful for and impressed by the innovation and inclusion of Mishkan Ga’avah and the ways I’ve been able to use it as a queer woman and a rabbi supporting queer congregants. I also love Inscribed, Alden’s books of poetry, Opening Your Heart with Psalm 27, the Omer book and cards, and the Torah commentaries. Also the Sacred series. And Mishkan HaSeder. Well, you get the picture—I am an equal opportunity book lover!
How do you like to spend your time outside of work?
I love being surrounded by nature, whether that is taking care of my plant babies, exploring a national park, hiking in a state park, or camping under the stars. I read a lot, bake a lot, and love playing board games. Most of all, I love spending time with my family—my wife, Joy; our three amazing kids; and our three crazy dogs.
Rabbi Annie Villarreal-Belford joined the CCAR Press team in July of 2022. She is a longtime member of the CCAR Press Council and a contributor to Inscribed: Encounters with the Ten Commandments (CCAR Press, 2020). A graduate of the University of Judaism (now American Jewish University), Rabbi Villarreal-Belford was ordained at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in New York and holds a doctorate in Pastoral Logotherapy from the Graduate Theological Foundation.