As the new year begins, I am thrilled to be serving as Rabbi with Temple Sholom. I grew up in South Florida in a small Jewish community. Judaism has always been central to my identity, studying Jewish texts my lifelong love. I majored in computer science in college and after graduation I worked for many years as an engineer in the technology industry. Whenever time allowed, I studied Torah Lishma, Torah study for its own sake. I’ve traveled extensively to Israel and lived in Jerusalem for three years, including a semester abroad at Hebrew University, and years studying at the Conservative Yeshiva. Finally, I decided to take the leap and pursue a life in the rabbinate. I graduated from Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in May. I hope to build up a spiritual community like the ones that have contributed so much to my own life. I want to foster a community where members’ lives are enriched by tradition, meaning, and purpose.

Judaism is practiced in community. On the Shabbat immediately before Rosh Hashanna we read the Torah portion Nitzvavim. In the portion, Moses tells us that every single person was present at Sinai, every single person entered into the covenant. During the High Holidays we recreate that experience, standing together, our lives combined in daily life and heavenly judgment. We are forbidden to stand alone, we must be part of a tzibbur, a congregation.

In the Bible, the word tzibbur literally means a collection, a combination of many diverse things. One of the many things I love about Temple Sholom is the unbelievably passionate, diverse personalities within it. It is so beautiful! There are people from completely different backgrounds coming together because of a shared love of Judaism. The commitment and work that members contribute is absolutely incredible. Temple Sholom’s members are as dedicated and active as I’ve ever seen in a congregation.

I look forward to connecting with each and every one of you. I am extremely blessed to be celebrating with you this upcoming Rosh Hashana and beyond.

L’Shana Tova,
Rabbi Zari Sussman