I am a Connecticut native, and my family was actively involved in our local Conservative synagogue. As a kid I discovered my love of learning and of the martial arts. However, to be honest, I was not that interested in Judaism, or any religion whatsoever. I could not understand how anything that professed to be so good and life-affirming could also be a source of conflict in history and the world today. Instead, I poured my energy into my real passion -- music -- and decided to pursue a career as a guitarist.
So, how did I wind up as a rabbi? It's a long story, but the short version is this: as a young adult (in my mid-twenties) I began to understand that music is a profoundly spiritual expression, and I began to re-explore my Jewish roots. I tried to experience all of the different streams of Judaism, and there discovered some of the beauty and depth of our tradition. Even more, I came to understand that religion is not a source of conflict, people who twist religion to serve their own agendas for power are. I eventually, recognized that my spiritual journey required not only my teshuvah, my return to Judaism, but that I share what I was learning. This led me to the rabbinate.
I sometimes joke that my senior year was the best two years of my life. The truth is that I just wanted to learn more and more. Had I found a way to support myself, I very well might have become a professional student. My parents were SO relieved when I finally got a full time job!!
Northwestern Universitywas the beginning of my collegiate journey, where I stayed an extra year to graduate with two degrees instead of one: a B.A. in Economics, and a B.M. in Guitar performance. Since I had two bachelor's degrees, I figured I might as well balance them out with a couple of master's. That led me to The Meadows School for the Arts at Southern Methodist University, where I had the opportunity to earn separate Master's degrees in Guitar Performance and Music Theory. I then went for my doctorate through a joint program offered by The Cleveland Institute of Music and Case Western University, pursuing a Doctor of Music Arts in Guitar Performance with a minor in Music History, However, I did not complete the program, as I fully realized my love of Judaism and my calling for the rabbinate during my first year there.
Although I feel an affinity with each of the different approaches to Jewish observance (so much so that I sometimes refer to myself as 'reconfusodox') I decided to make my home in the Reform Movement and applied to rabbinical school at The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Over the five years of my studies in Jerusalem and New York at HUC-JIR, I earned a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters and then received rabbinic smichah.
Since ordination in 1999, I have been blessed to serve three congregations: Temple Judea of Bucks County, Temple Beth Zion in Buffalo, and Temple Beth Ami in Rockville, Maryland - where I am currently senior rabbi. I love working in a congregational setting because our tradition is really all about our people, and about how we live together and in relationship to God. I consider myself fortunate to have been welcomed as a spiritual leader in both of these wonderful synagogue communities.
I gladly serve as a rabbinic mentor for the Central Conference of American Rabbis, where I have the opportunity to support colleagues in the first years of their rabbinate. I also served as a field mentor for rabbinical students when I lived closer to New York City. I support the work of the National Federation for Just Communities as a board member, and am actively involved in interfaith relations and social justice work. I also served on the ethics committee of Doylestown Hospital and as an advisor to NESS, a nationally recognized program for cultivating excellence in synagogue religious schools.
JUST FOR FUN
I love spending time with my family, and can't believe that this year my oldest will be learning how to drive. We have already started to visit colleges. Yikes!
In my spare time, I enjoy reading, am a cycling and fitness enthusiast, and practice the martial arts. My wife Shauna and I are learning to home brew beer and love sharing our brew with our very brave friends. So far I prefer our Shavuot Special Brown!