Announcements, Events and Info
Our New RabbiPosted by: Marc Slovak on: 06/29/2009 Display from: 06/29/2009
ALL | ALL Announcements | PREVIOUS
Our New Rabbi
by Andrea Weiss and Mitch Wienick
Co-Chairs, Beth Am Israel Rabbi Search Committee
Since it was constituted last summer, the Beth Am Israel Rabbi Search Committee has worked diligently to find and recommend an outstanding rabbi to ensure our congregation fulfills its highest aspirations. We are pleased to announce that we have successfully completed our task. At the conclusion of its deliberations, the Search Committee voted to offer the position to Rabbi David Ackerman. We were pleased to recommend this choice to the BAI Board on May 25, which affirmatively ratified our recommendation.
Rabbi David M Ackerman
When the Search Committee was formed, we agreed that the selection of our new rabbi was critical for our congregation's future. We set high expectations for what we were looking for in a rabbi, and we have met those expectations. Rabbi David Ackerman is exactly the sort of top notch rabbi that we hoped to find, with the qualities specified in our search: a dynamic and inspiring leader with a proven track record of a successful, long-term relationship with a congregation; an engaging teacher of intellectual depth who is able to make Jewish texts and tradition relevant and meaningful; a team-player who already has a warm personal and professional relationship with Harold Messinger, our Shaliach Tzibur; a person on a spiritual journey who is looking forward to the ways he will grow Jewishly and professionally at Beth Am; a mensch who welcomes the chance for him and his family to become part of the very special BAI community. Here is his biography:
Rabbi David Ackerman brings a very strong combination of pulpit experience, Jewish scholarship and teaching, and community leadership to the rabbinate. A long-time resident of Blue Bell, PA, he is well known in the Philadelphia region for his numerous religious and communal activities. Rabbi Ackerman received his A.B. degree from Princeton University with Honors in History, and served as President of Princeton's Hillel. He then went on to The Jewish Theological Seminary where he was ordained with an M.A. and earned prizes in American Jewish History, Jewish Theology, Bible and History. He has pursued lifelong learning with courses at the Shalom Hartman Institute, STAR (Synagogue Transformation and Renewal), and the doctoral program in Jewish Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
Since January 2008, Rabbi Ackerman has served as the Rabbi for National Outreach at The Jewish Theological Seminary, where he has focused on educational outreach programming, rabbinic enrichment and continuing education, JTS Torah Commentary, and the Rabbinical Assembly Joint Campaign. The focus of all these projects has been community building, a passion that characterizes Rabbi Ackerman's work throughout his career. In helping other rabbis to strengthen their communities, he has reignited his own desire to return to pulpit work.
Indeed, a majority of Rabbi Ackerman's professional life has been dedicated to the pulpit, where he has focused his energies on building synagogue community, fostering creative adult and youth educational programs, and serving in a host of leadership roles in national and Philadelphia regional Jewish organizations. Rabbi Ackerman was the spiritual leader of Tiferet Bet Israel in Blue Bell, PA from 1992 to 2007. The synagogue began as a merger of two separate synagogues, and Rabbi Ackerman successfully led a number of initiatives that helped bring the two congregations together and resulted in steady growth of membership and school enrollment. These initiatives included revamping Shabbat services to include Shabbat Havurah, musical Friday nights, and Torah discussion; revising High Holiday services to expand congregational participation; organizing a Hesed Committee and ongoing caring community groups; and participating in interfaith programs. Rabbi Ackerman has also been heavily involved in working with children. He reorganized the synagogue's High School program and served as a Rabbi and teacher for Camp Ramah in the Poconos for ten summers.
Adult education has long been a central part of Rabbi Ackerman's rabbinate. At Tiferet Bet Israel he created new adult education programs including "University" programs, Adult Education Institutes, and Pillars of Jewish Living courses. He was Scholar-in-Residence for a national Hadassah-sponsored program for two years, and he taught a twenty-week study seminar for the Philadelphia Branch of Women's League Institute for six years. In addition, he has written numerous articles published nationally by such organizations as JTS (Torah Commentaries), CLAL, and the World Congress of Jewish Studies.
Rabbi Ackerman has long been active in leadership positions in Jewish community and various professional organizations, helping to advance public policy, adult Jewish education, social action, and Jewish communal connections with Israel. He has led a number of community-based family trips to Israel. He has served on the Board of Directors of Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Camp Ramah in the Poconos, Jewish Outreach Partnership of Philadelphia, and Auerbach Central Agency for Jewish Education. He also served in the JTS Chancellor's Rabbinic Cabinet for eight years, and in both national
and Philadelphia Branch Rabbinical Assembly leadership positions.
Rabbi Ackerman began his rabbinic career at Anshe Emet Synagogue in Chicago, where he served as assistant rabbi and was active in community-wide adult-education programming, outreach to young adults, and directed and administered the religious school.
Rabbi Ackerman is married to Naomi (pronounced "Nomi") Shapiro and is the proud father of Josh (age16), Elijah (age 13), and Rosie (age 4 1/2).