Temple Beth Orr of Coral Springs recently hired its first female rabbi, Rabbi Michal Loving, to usher in a new era in which the temple is actively reaching out to unaffiliated Jews, foregoing the traditional annual membership fee structure.
It is appropriate that the new rabbi’s surname is Loving because TBO hired her on the strength of her warm, charismatic character in their 18-month search to replace the retired Rabbi Mark Gross.
“Rabbi Loving rose to the top of our selection process because she exemplifies what our congregation expressed what were the most important qualities in our next rabbi,” said Steve Feinstein, president of Temple Beth Orr.
“Rabbi Loving exudes warmth, wisdom, compassion, a strong sense of self and a sense of humor. Her passion for Judaism is both contagious and energizing. She is a rabbi for our young and young at heart.”
Married with three young children aged 18 months to six, Loving also fits the profile of the many young unaffiliated Jewish families that TBO hopes will come to the Coral Springs congregation.
“Being at Temple Beth Orr is a perfect fit for both me and the new era of the congregation in which it is important to engage everyone who enters our doors,” said Loving.
Loving’s parents divorced in California when she was three. Her father returned to Israel and remarried. Her mother came out as a lesbian. She married a woman when Michal was five.
“I grew up an only child with two mothers in Long Beach, California. Every summer, I traveled to Holton, Israel to spend time with my father and his family where I ate bamba with my half-siblings and learned to speak Hebrew at Israeli summer camps.”
“I came to my life’s passion while accompanying my husband Jonathan through his conversion process in 2004. I want to provide the opportunity for everyone, no matter our backgrounds or differences, to embrace our own individual Jewish paths and find our own truths. I cherish teaching Torah because I love to impart the rich values and culture of our heritage and install a sense of rootedness in history and l’dor v’dor (from generation through generation),” said Loving.
Following her five years of study and ordination as rabbi at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Loving served as the rabbi-educator at Congregation B’nai Israel in Sacramento.
Feinstein emphasized that it was crucial in the hiring process that Loving would have approval as the new rabbi by all members of Temple Beth Orr.
“It was a unanimous choice to hire Rabbi Loving and that is the way the process had to work. Although the selection committee narrowed the field of candidates, the congregation voted unanimously to hire her after she spoke to us in February,” said Feinstein.
“TBO is and will continue to be more than a building. TBO is a tapestry of genuine relationships, threaded with laughter, tears and the everyday moments in between,” said Loving.
“Together, we will find meaning and Jewish relevance in day to day life and ensure that everyone who comes through our doors considers us a second home and feels accepted and embraced for who they truly are.”
Joining Loving as a new clergy member of Temple Beth Orr is Cantor Educator David Sislen.
“Cantor Sislen has extensive experience and he will be an exceptional pulpit partner with Rabbi Loving. Their backgrounds and interests complement each other and their styles will combine to form an all-inclusive balance on the bimah and beyond,” said Feinstein.
Since 1996, Sislen has been cantor and educator at congregations and schools in Florida, Maryland and New York. He has been director of Judaic Studies at Greenfield Day School in Miami.
For more information about Temple Beth Orr, 2151 Riverside Dr. in Coral Springs, call 954-753-3232 or go to http://www.templebethorr.org
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