Clergy and Staff
Rabbi Joshua Hammerman
Rabbi Joshua Hammerman has been Beth El’s spiritual leader since 1992. He came to Beth El as assistant rabbi in 1987, after serving pulpits in Peekskill and Beacon, NY. He was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1983, and also received a Masters in journalism from N.Y.U. and a B.A., Magna Cum Laude from Brown University, where he twice won the university’s prestigious Bishop McVickar Prize in Religious Studies. In 2010, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Jewish Theological Seminary for his years of service to the Jewish people.
He is the author of “thelordismyshepherd.com: Seeking God in Cyberspace” and contributor to the children’s book, “I Have Some Questions About God.” His articles and essays have appeared widely (see many of them on his blog), and his column, “On One Foot,” has appeared regularly in The New York Jewish Week since 1994. Rabbi Hammerman was a 2009 winner of the Simon Rockower award, the highest honor in Jewish journalism, for his columns on the Bernard Madoff case, which appeared first on his blog and then were discussed widely in the media. Among his many personal essays are several written for the New York Times Magazine. He is also featured as About.com’s Conservative representative in its “Ask the Rabbi” series and he fields questions on the Jewish Week’s website as its resident “Jewish Ethicist.”
At Beth El, he has focused his efforts on creating an oasis of warmth, love and mutual respect, befitting the role of a modern congregation in an increasingly complicated world. Simultaneously, he strives to challenge congregants — and himself — to reach ever higher in setting spiritual and ethical objectives, and to delve more deeply into the rich vein of Jewish inspiration and wisdom available to us. He been a champion of inclusiveness and innovation in synagogue life, implementing programs like Synaplex and Shabbat Unplugged and embracing people of all backgrounds.
The rabbi has been president of the Interfaith Council of Southwestern Connecticut and the Stamford Board of Rabbis and is a member of the National Rabbinic Cabinet of the United Jewish Communities, a chaplain for the Stamford Police and member of the pastoral advisory committee of Stamford Health Systems. He also serves on the Rabbinic Leadership Council, a select group of rabbis chosen by JTS Chancellor Arnold Eisen, and has been heavily involved in many Jewish think tanks, including JESNA’s Jewish Education 3.0 project, STAR-Tech and Synaplex. He also has lectured widely and is a member of the faculty of CLAL, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. He is a champion of interfaith dialogue and his “Learning and Latte” series, involving himself along with Christian and Muslim leaders, has been a local fixture since 2002. A noted Cyber-Rebbe, he has pioneered the use of the Internet for inspirational and educational purposes.
Rabbi Hammerman loves surfing the Internet, rooting for the Boston Red Sox, a good, Israeli hummus, and all things Jewish. He is also an active supporter of Brown, often conducting alumni interviews of prospective students. He lives with his wife, Dr. Mara Hammerman, a psychologist, two children, Ethan and Daniel, and their two standard poodles, Crosby and Chloe.
Contact Rabbi Hammerman: firstname.lastname@example.org | (203) 322-6901 x 307
Cantor George Mordecai
A creative and inspiring Cantor and community leader with 18 years experience building community and leading uplifting, participatory prayer, Cantor Mordecai has been warmly welcomed at Temple Beth El.
Cantor George Mordecai weaves his rich cultural heritage into his work as a performer and cantor. Born in Sydney, Australia to Iraqi and Indian Jewish immigrants, he was immersed from an early age in the musical and liturgical traditions of his family. He went on to lead services at the Sephardic Synagogue in Sydney and appeared at various multicultural music festivals around Australia. George also sang with the Renaissance Players, a renowned and innovative early music ensemble based at Sydney University, and with the Capella Floriani, a musical/theatrical company devoted to a spiritual vision of the performing arts. He also toured Europe with Cantor Naphtali Hershtig and the Great Synagogue Choir of Jerusalem. He received a B.A. in history from the University of New South Wales and received his Cantorial investiture and Master’s Degree in sacred music from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2000.
Upon graduation, he worked for four years as the cantor at Temple Beth Zion Beth Israel in Philadelphia. George continued to perform Ashkenazic, Sephardic, and Middle Eastern liturgical music at concert halls and synagogues in England, Paris, Israel, and various cities around the U.S. while concurrently working on interfaith performance projects with Arab, Jewish, and African-American musicians. Cantor Mordecai comes to Temple Beth El from Temple Emanu-El, “The South Beach Synagogue” in Miami Florida where he served as Cantor.
He has also served as cantor in Philadelphia, and as Assistant Cantor at Temple Emanuel in Sydney, Australia. George recently presented a major concert on the musical traditions of the Jude-Iraqi community, as well as performing with the world renowned choral ensemble Seraphic Fire.
Cantor Mordecai resides in Stamford with his wife, Michal, and daughters Gabriella and Eliora.
Contact Cantor Mordecai: email@example.com | (203) 322-6901 x 303
Lisa Gittelman Udi, Education and Youth Director
Lisa is a dynamic and creative educator and skilled administrator. She has 15 years of experience as an educational director for various synagogues, including, most recently, Greenwich Reform Synagogue. She has also worked as a youth director and Teen Jewish Resource Specialist Supervisor at Surprise Lake Camp in New York State. Lisa is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of USC and has had extensive post-graduate training in Jewish education as well as folklore and mythology.
Lisa runs our Religious School and coordinates all our teen programming and High Holidays children's activities, among other responsibilities.
Contact Lisa Gittelman Udi: firstname.lastname@example.org | (203) 322-6901 x 305
Steven Lander, Executive Director
Steven Lander most recently served as Executive Director at Congregation Agudath Sholom (CAS) since July of 2000. He has been an active leader in many Jewish organizations and synagogues dating back to his high school years. He served as Regional Advisor to the CT Region of Young Judaea. Upon graduation from Bryant College with a degree in business management and marketing, Steven became Youth Director and Program Director and then served as Executive Director of the Norwalk Jewish Community Center for six years.
Mr. Lander founded Amazing Stores in 1975. As a pioneer in the close-out industry, Steven and two partners built up the chain to seven stores throughout Connecticut. During his 20 year reign as “Mr. Amazing,” Steven also remained active in the community serving as President of the Norwalk Jewish Community Center for two years; Chairman of the Federated U.J.A. drive in Norwalk for two years; as well as President for two years and Treasurer for three years of Beth Israel Synagogue in Norwalk. At Beth Israel, Mr. Lander served as co-chair of the Mortgage Burning Campaign and also founded and served as co-chair of the Bingo fund-raiser for eight years.
Prior to joining the staff at CAS, Steven served on the Board of Directors as assistant treasurer and marketing chairman of The Human Services Council of Mid-Fairfield and then joined the professional staff as the Director of Development, Marketing and Communications. He also served as the co-chair of the committee that brought the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus to Norwalk as a major fund-raiser for The Human Services Council for four years.
Steven has served as a guest lecturer at UCONN, Bryant College, and also taught the marketing and advertising entrepreneurial course as part of the BECON Program at the Norwalk Community College.
Steve’s wife, Lieba Lander, is a teacher at the Gan Yeladim Pre-School. The Landers have three children: Joshua, Deborah (who lives in Israel), and Karen and two grandchildren.
Contact Steven: email@example.com | (203) 322-6901 x 304
Director of Community Engagement
Ronnie Brockman, Early Childhood Center Director
Mrs. Brockman comes to TBE with over three decades of experience in the early childhood field.
As the new Director, Ronnie will be developing special programs serving pre-school children and their parents throughout the 2010-2011 year while developing the new pre-school scheduled to open in the Fall of 2011.
Ronnie has served at the Riverdale YM-YWHA since 1989 serving most recently as Assistant Director of the Early Childhood Center where she was responsible for staff development, creating parenting programs, teaching parenting classes, as well as working in the classrooms.
She has also served as Director of the Pre-School Summer Program at the Riverdale Y since 2006. As director she was responsible for all aspects of running the summer program for pre-school children. She established creative and innovative experiences for the first-time campers and worked with staff and families to maintain the highest level of age-appropriate early childhood practices.
Mrs. Brockman was also head of the “Mishpachton” for Kindergarten through second grade children (over 100 children) at the Westchester Reform Temple. This program, held on Sundays (a division of their Religious School), includes children and adult learning, looping and various opportunities for parent participation in a Sunday School setting.
A graduate of Hunter College, she has degrees in Early Childhood Education and Psychology. She has also attended Bank Street College of Education.
In early 2009, Ronnie received a Jewish Greening Fellowship, a partnership with Isabella Freeman Jewish Retreat Center and UJA in New York. This program included eighteen months of intensive environmental education.
Ronnie is most excited about integrating the new Mitzvah Garden into the program at the TBE Early Childhood Center. That huge garden was recently dedicated at TBE in memory of Lenore and Arthur Finkelstein, z’l, by the Finkelstein family.
Contact Ronnie: earlychildhood@TBE.org | (203) 322-6901 x 315
Rabbi Emeritus Alex J. Goldman, z”l
Rabbi Goldman was Beth El’s spiritual leader from 1966 to 1992 and passed away in late 2004. One of his greatest contributions to the synagogue is the Rabbi Alex Goldman Heritage Museum, a magnificent collection of Judaica found in our sanctuary lobby. And our beautiful sanctuary itself, with its walk-in ark and unique windows, remains as a tribute to his leadership and vision.
The son of one of America’s most respected rabbinic leaders, Rabbi Yehuda D. Goldman, he was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College of Chicago and served Hillel foundations and congregations in Tallahassee, Florida, and Philadelphia before coming to Stamford. He has published twelve books, including a novel, and his latest children’s book, “I Am A Holocaust Torah,” will be published by Gefen Publishers, Israel.
Rabbi Goldman held advanced degrees in law and marriage counseling and was president of the Hew Family Service. He was married to Edith, father to Robert and Pam, and grandfather of two.
Eulogy to Rabbi Goldman
Hazzan Emeritus Sidney G. Rabinowitz
Hazzan-Emeritus Sidney G. Rabinowitz, formerly Cantor and Director of Musical Activities at Temple Beth El, Stamford, Connecticut, since 1970, is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He is a member of the Cantors Assembly, from which he has been commissioned. He is a past president of the Connecticut Region of the Cantors Assembly and has served as a member of the Executive Council of the Cantors Assembly, where he served on the Commission of Youth Activities. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Cantors Institute.
Hazzan Rabinowitz has distinguished himself as an interpreter of Jewish music. He was the conductor of three choirs at Temple Beth El: The Adult Mixed Voice Choir, the Sisterhood Choir and the Temple Beth El Junior Choir. Besides their extensive repertories, the choirs premiered new works of Jewish music composed for them. In the community, Hazzan Rabinowitz had an enviable reputation for his loving care and professionalism in preparing 1,500 children and adults in becoming Bar and Bat Mitzvah candidates.
In 1985, Hazzan Rabinowitz was the recipient of the Mitzvah Award, presented by Jewish Family Service of Stamford, for his humane contribution to the welfare of the community. As a member of the Board of Trustees of Jewish Family Service, he took the initiative to produce six concerts to benefit the Jewish Family Service. Hazzan Rabinowitz, under the auspices of Jewish Family Service organized a wedding for 11 Russian couples who did not have the opportunity to be married according to Jewish Law in Russia. In doing so, he was able to involve all rabbis and cantors in Stamford, and the general Jewish community, which provided a traditional reception with all food donated by various caterers and a well known Jewish orchestra which also offered its services gratis. He is also a recipient of the Hall of Honor Award, presented by the Connecticut Association for Children with Learning Disabilities. In 1991 Hazzan Rabinowitz was the artistic director of “A Celebration of Choir,” an interfaith concert sponsored by the Council of Churches and Synagogues. In 1992 he was honored by the Stamford Jewish Community Center at the Annual POSH Luncheon in appreciation for his many years of service to the Senior Adult Program at the Center. In 2000 he was again honored by POSH at a dinner in his honor.
In 1995, Temple Beth El honored its Hazzan for 25 years of service to the Temple and community. In his honor, a system to aid the hearing impaired was installed in the sanctuary, chapel and junior auditorium. It is also the year during which the Hazzan was designated the “Clergy of the Year” by The Council of Churches and Synagogues, he being the first Jewish clergy in Stamford, CT to be the recipient of this honor.
In May 2002 Hazzan Rabinowitz was honored by Temple Beth El and the Stamford Community upon his retirement after 32 years of service. In March 2006 Hazzan Rabinowitz was honored by the Jewish Theological Seminary with the degree of Doctor of Music Honoris Causa.
Hazzan Rabinowitz was married to the former Sondra "Sandy" Resnick, of blessed memory. He is the father of three daughters, ten delightful grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
Hazzan now resides in Burke, Virginia.
Telephone and E-Mail Directory
Our staff is eager to assist you.
Office hours: Mon. – Thurs., 9AM – 5PM; Fridays, 9AM – 2PM
Telephone: (203) 322-6901 Fax: (203) 322-0532
Address: 350 Roxbury Rd., Stamford, CT 06902
|Sidney G. Rabinowitz
|Lisa Gittelman Udi
||Education and Youth Director
||Early Childhood Director
||Director of Community Engagement
||Sisterhood Gift Shop