Rabbi Rebecca Epstein Joins Clergy Team
Last month, we shared the bittersweet news that Rabbi Katz will be leaving CBE at the end of June to lead Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield, New Jersey. You can see that announcement and Marc’s beautiful letter to the congregation here. Four weeks ago, we were thrilled to announce that Matt Green will become CBE’s new Assistant Rabbi after he is ordained in the spring. You can see that announcement and read about Matt’s stellar achievements here. Today, we share the exciting news that CBE is expanding our clergy team with a third rabbi, and to introduce you to Rabbi Rebecca Epstein.
With our growing and vibrant congregation, even our talented and diligent clergy team is not sufficient to meet all of our members’ needs. Not only do we need three rabbis to serve our growing number of members, in this moment of expansion we also have the opportunity to align our clergy with the particular needs of our community.
One area where we are seeing the most growth is in families with children. We are bursting at the seams with babies, toddlers, pre-school-aged children, elementary-school-aged children, middle-schoolers and teens. Through Yachad, the Early Childhood Center, After-School Program, Shir L’Shabbat, Ha’Geemnasia, Summer Camp, and our youth group BESTY, we have more than 1,000 children in our buildings almost every week of the year. It is a blessing that we have the opportunity to provide meaningful Jewish education to a growing number of children and their parents from birth to college, and to create lasting community for children and families as they grow from stage to stage. Rabbi Epstein will oversee all of our youth and family programs as CBE’s Associate Rabbi/Educator.
Meanwhile, we have increased our offerings in recent years to reach the nearly fifty percent of our members who are adults without children in the home. This is a broad portfolio of programming for community members from 21 to 101 and includes exciting opportunities for Jewish learning, arts and culture, action for social justice, engagement with big ideas, holiday events, and community involvement. Rabbi Green will be taking on this portfolio, building on great work over the last two years with these groups. It is thrilling to imagine how our ability to devote such a creative and entrepreneurial full-time rabbi to adults will deepen their experiences at CBE.
Despite their respective focuses, both Rabbi Epstein and Rabbi Green will be available to all CBE members for pastoral care, spiritual leadership, and life cycle events. Together with Cantor Breitzer and under the rabbinic leadership of Rabbi Timoner, we believe our clergy team will be second to none.
That this new team will be in place by July 1, 2018 is only through the initiative, vision, and financial support of many congregants who contributed specifically to accelerate the addition of an Associate Rabbi/Educator to our budget. We are grateful for the foresight and generosity of those member families who have given, and we are deeply appreciative of the leadership and hard work of Rob Raich and Marc Sternberg in this campaign.
After the Board of Trustees decided in August to begin the process of hiring an Associate Rabbi/Educator for CBE, we were very fortunate that Trustee Lisa Lieberman agreed to chair the search committee. The committee was thoughtfully composed of five CBE parents from Yachad, the ECC, and the After-School Program, two of whom are also educators. They quickly coalesced around a vision for their ideal candidate: a rabbi with extensive experience serving children, youth, and families in congregational life. Over the next five months, the committee scanned the country for the best candidates, screened resumes, conducted telephone interviews, hosted three finalists at CBE, and were thrilled to identify and select Rabbi Epstein.
Rabbi Rebecca Epstein is simply an outstanding rabbi who is beloved by the communities she has served. In her nine years in the field, she has been responsible for children’s and family education in two congregations, most recently serving as Rabbi and Director of Education at Congregation Beth Israel in Austin, Texas. There she transformed and revitalized children’s and family education and built real community among parents, children, and teachers. Previously, Rabbi Epstein served as Rabbi and Director of Education at Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick, New Jersey, where she rebuilt the curriculum and created programs for family learning, along with her full pulpit, lifecycle and pastoral responsibilities. In addition to a love of Talmud, Torah, and all things Jewish, Rabbi Epstein brings experience teaching Jewish yoga, organizing teen programs, strengthening bonds between American Jews and Israel, and leading social justice programs on issues such as the environment, Muslim-Jewish relations and immigration. Rabbi Epstein lived in Brooklyn years ago and is very happy to return.
We are excited to welcome Rabbi Epstein, her husband Barak, and their three daughters Noa, Aviya, and Sonia to CBE this summer, and we look forward to creating many opportunities for our entire community to know and love them.
With great joy and anticipation,
Rabbi Rachel Timoner
Jonathan Fried, President