Rabbi Sharon Ballan

Photo of Rabbi“Now when Pharoah let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although it was nearer; for God said, 'The people may have a change of heart when they see war, and return to Egypt.' So God led the people roundabout, by way of the wilderness at the Sea of Reeds.” (Ex. 13:17)

Like the Children of Israel, my path to the rabbinate was a roundabout one. I did not “pass go” and go straight to rabbinical school. When my great-grandmother died, my father realized that ‘mama’ was the only one in his family who had carried on any Jewish traditions. Troubled, he decided to seek the advice of a rabbi at a small Reform synagogue near our Long Island home. At first, he stayed in the back of the synagogue and observed, but he finally chose to learn more about Judaism, and to teach his family about it.

My family joined that synagogue, and I proudly chanted from the Torah at my Bat Mitzvah, something that most young Jewish women weren’t doing in the early ’70s. Becoming a rabbi never crossed my mind then, because there were no female rabbi role models for me.

I went on to graduate from Adelphi University Magna Cum Laude with a major in Communications and a minor in Fine Art, and worked in the advertising and marketing industry.

As a young adult, I joined a Reform synagogue on Long Island, because I felt it was important to give my daughter a Jewish education. I immediately became involved, attending services regularly, joining the choir and attending Torah study on Saturday mornings. I became a member of the Board of Directors, chaired the Adult Education Committee, and worked closely with the rabbi to develop adult continuing education programs at the synagogue. I frequently read from the Torah and led services on Shabbat mornings in the absence of the cantor. The rabbi became a mentor and a friend to me and eventually urged me to consider the rabbinate, an idea I had never considered. At first I was skeptical, but eventually the idea won out.

I fell in love with teaching when I was asked to teach in the religious school’s 5th grade. Teaching became a part of my life as I taught professionally for the next eight years at Central Synagogue of Nassau in various capacities, from 4th and 5th grade Hebrew and Judaica to the 8th Grade Post-Bar/Bat Mitzvah classes.

I applied to The Academy for Jewish Religion in Riverdale, NY, and received rabbinic ordination in May, 2009. I have served many Jewish communities over the years—as Rabbi of Congregation Sons of Israel, a small liberal non-denominational congregation in Chambersburg, PA; Hollis Hills Jewish Center, and Little Neck Jewish Center, where I taught their B'nei mitzvah students; and I served as Rabbi and Head of Jewish Culture at Camp Pembroke, in Massachusetts.

I am extremely grateful to be serving the Temple Beth Sholom family and for the many opportunities I have been given to learn, pray, sing, and rejoice together with you!
Email: rabbi@templebethsholom.org

Cantor Kathy Barr

Cantor Kathy BarrCantor Kathy J. Barr joined the clergy of Temple Beth Sholom in July of 2014. She was ordained by The Academy for Jewish Religion, a seminary dedicated to Jewish pluralism near New York City. This program, which favors an inclusive approach to training its prospective members of the clergy, welcomes the differences between people while also emphasizing their shared values. Cantor Barr was also certified by the American Conference of Cantors as a Regular Member. She received herBaccalaureate degree from New York University in Philosophy, with minors in Hebrew and Mathematics. After graduating, she plunged headlong into dual careers of singing and advertising, eventually melding the two into her own business of concert promotion and choral contracting. Her worship style is one of inclusion, blending the contemplative with joyful participation, believing that music is the language of the soul, and through music, the soul can truly receive and transmit blessing. Her philosophy is one of embracing all of Judaism, and finding that which works for the individual as well as the community.

Raised in Reform, Cantor Barr has always been involved in Social Action. As a teen she was active in Camp Shalom, a day camp sponsored by two Manhattan Upper West Side congregations that provided a fun, safe environment for inner city kids from the Lincoln Square Projects. She also counseled runaways, finding them places to stay and facilitating a dialog between them and their parents.

A performer since the age of seven, Cantor Barr was active in regional opera and oratorio as well as in liturgical music and performed as soloist both at home and abroad, including concert tours of the Caribbean, Italy and two tours of Greece. Orchestral engagements have included the New York Philharmonic, the American Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony working with such noted conductors as Zubin Mehta, Lukas Foss, Robert DeCormier, Abraham Kaplan, Matthew Lazar, Robert Shaw, and Gerard Schwarz. She has recorded for Vox Turnabout, Centaur, Sine Qua Non, Not Nice Music, Book of the Month Records, and for the Western Wind, on The Birthday of the World, a set of 2 CD's of High Holy Day music.

Prior to coming to Temple Beth Shalom, Cantor Barr served as Cantor of Temple Shalom (URJ) in Sucasunna, NJ, the Village Temple (URJ) in NYC, North Shore Synagogue (URJ) in Syosset, Long Island, West End Synagogue, (Reconstructionist), and Beth Shalom, a Post-Denominational congregation, both in Manhattan.
Cantor Barr is married to Ed Weissman, an attorney (who also sings bass), and is the proud mother of Sara and Nora Fantry. Cantor Barr is a member of the URJ, AGMA, the GTM, ARC, the ACC and the Social Action committee of the ACC.
Email: cantor@templebethsholom.org

Rabbi Emeritus Bruce Goldwasser

Photo of Rabbi GoldwasserBruce Goldwasser became Temple Beth Sholom's third rabbi in 1978. He started out as a construction worker and an estimator working for his father, and still lifts weights at home. He then worked as a child welfare caseworker in New Jersey where he met his wife Nancy who was taking over his caseload. "When we were first dating, he says in his usual humorous manner, we had sixty children between us. So, she made an honest man of me, and we got married."

Ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Rabbi Goldwasser received his degrees of Bachelor of Hebrew Literature and Master of Hebrew Literature with an academic prize in Theology. Before coming to Temple Beth Sholom, he served communities in Bluefield, West Virginia and Lombard, Illinois. His rabbinical thesis was based on a study of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism). He was awarded his Doctorate of Divinity degree by HUC-JIR in 1995.

Rabbi Goldwasser retired in 2009 and was elected Rabbi Emeritus. He and Nancy have two children and two grandchildren. His definition of becoming a grandparent: "Going to heaven without having to die first."

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