U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill named Bnai Keshet Rabbi Ariann Weitzman a 2021 “NJ-11 Hero” for inspiring her congregation and the larger community during the pandemic.

Weitzman is associate rabbi and director of congregational learning at Bnai Keshet.

She will receive a congressional certificate recognizing Sherrill’s and the entire 11th Congressional District community’s gratitude, according to a press release from Sherrill’s office.

Weitzman was an obvious choice, Bnai Keshet congregant Jessica Brater wrote in Weitzman’s nomination on Sherrill’s website.

“When many of us were lost in confusion, frustration, isolation and sadness, she boostered children and adults with belonging, support, love and a strong sense of identity,” Brater wrote. “There is no question that she made a difference in the lives of our children and the entire congregation during the pandemic and she continues to do so today! We are so grateful for her guidance and leadership.”

When the synagogue went into lockdown in March 2020, Weitzman’s dedication to the children in the congregation was immediately evident by the feeling of community she created for the isolated children, Brater wrote. She also filled in for Bnai Keshet’s senior rabbi, who was on sabbatical for a large portion of the pandemic.

A graduate of Case Western Reserve and Academy for Jewish Religion, Weitzman came to New Jersey in 2002 as a rabbinic intern at Congregation Beth Hativkah and later as a chaplain at Federation Plaza and Arden Courts in West Orange before becoming assistant rabbi and director of congregational learning at Bnai Keshet, the release said.