"I find that a lot of the process of growing communities is to love people the way they are," she said. "People have complicated and real lives."

She said she wants to help people to be "less stressed and more joyful."

Gould said she is also trying to integrate the Sunday school into the congregation more. Toward that end, she has started Gan Hayeladim, "garden of children," a program to welcome families with young children and to offer activities to connect them with Judaism, "in a way that is family-friendly and fun," she said.

There is a chance Gould could become the permanent rabbi, after a feeling-out period, Wacks said.

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"I would love the job," Gould said.

Eyes wide open

Gould said she knew what she was getting into when she talked with the board about the interim job.

"Initially, there was a lot of fear about the future. But when I told them, 'We're going to grow,' (emotions) shifted in the room."

Now, Gould and the congregation approach the High Holy Days with a sense of possibilities and optimism.

"More will be revealed," Gould said.

For information on High Holy Days services at Beit Tikvah Congregation, go to http://www.beittikvah.org.