Rabbi Robert Barr first came to Cincinnati 40 years ago to study at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), in Clifton. It was there he met his wife, Terri, and began an adventure that has kept him here ever since.

Like many students studying to be rabbis, Robert served congregations in Toronto, Boston, and Washington, D.C. while in school. During that time, he also began conversations with (now) members that led him to found Congregation Beth Adam, located in Loveland. He has served as its rabbi for 37 years.

Rabbi Barr’s deep footprint is here at home. Always looking for new ways to bring people together to solve problems, Rabbi Barr is an active member of Greater Cincinnati’s community service community. He serves with, and has held leadership roles in, numerous Jewish, interfaith, and civic community organizations.

As social media and online information continued to change the ways people connected with one another, Rabbi Barr took notice of technology’s impact on religion. In 2010, he founded OurJewishCommunity.org, which is one of the first online Jewish congregations in the world and among the largest.

Rabbi Barr learned about the importance of leaving the world better than he found it from his family. His grandparents were fortunate that the United States was open to immigrants when they fled Eastern Europe at the turn of the 20th Century. His father served in World War II as a Navy dentist in the South Pacific, and his mother was an active volunteer in their community.

Until the sixth grade, Rabbi Barr struggled with a disability that prevented him from learning how to read. That changed when committed teachers intervened and transformed his life. This sparked his passion for life-long learning – and instilled his unwavering belief in the power of one person to change the world of another.

Now, Rabbi Barr is a frequent speaker on ethics, and presents regularly to university students, medical residents, and the Cincinnati Bar Association. In addition, he has lectured on the Bible, theology, religion, and culture as part of OLLI, the continuing education program at the University of Cincinnati. Rabbi Barr is recognized as a thought leader and his work has been published widely.

Rabbi Barr grew up in Detroit, Michigan. He received his B.A. in Philosophy and Psychology from Oakland University in 1976, his MAHL from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in 1980, and was ordained as a rabbi in 1981. In 2006, he received a Doctor of Divinity from HUC-JIR after 25 years of service as a rabbi.

Rabbi Barr and his wife Terri met while he was a student at HUC-JIR. Today, Terri is a university professor. They have two adult children and have been proud owners of Airedale Terriers.