At ordination, most Rabbis effectively “lose” their first name – it is replaced by the title they have studied hard to earn – Rabbi – “my teacher.” Rabbi Steve Weisman, was ordained by HUC-JIR in New York in 1991, and has been known affectionately as “Rabbi Steve” ever since! He and his family – Loren, his wife, and their children Emily and David -- have been with us here at Temple Solel since August, 2000. In that time, he, and we, have grown together in many ways.
Rabbi Steve’s lifelong experience in Jewish summer camping and youth work is seen on the wall of his office in the TWO lifetime memberships he has received from regions of the North American Federation of Temple Youth. But it is also seen in the large delegation of our youngsters who attend Camp Harlam and other Jewish camps each summer, who enthusiastically bring home their experiences. It is heard in the singing of our Junior Choir, which he began and still directs. It is also heard from time to time in our worship, in some of the melodies that he has composed and the words he has written.
His experience in Interfaith work has guided our congregation’s growth into one of Bowie’s foundational organizations. His leadership, and continuing involvement, in the Bowie Clergy Association was first exhibited in 2001, at Bowie’s Unity Day, and continues through the many programs the BCA has staged to teach our community and promote true pluralism. His continuing friendship with Khalil Shadeed, which began at a discussion of Bruce Feiler’s book, Abraham, has led to an ongoing relationship and dialogue with the Islamic Society of Southern Prince George’s County that has been recognized by both the URJ and regionally by Washington Jewish Week. His efforts in creating a visible and highly successful community-wide benefit concert in response to the disastrous tsunami in the Pacific in early 2005 led to a proclamation from the City Council.
His reputation as a teacher, both formal and informal, of students of all ages, is seen in the strength of our ongoing Torah Study and Bible study groups each week, as well as in the depth and breadth of the other offerings of our Continuing Adult Education Program. He has taught in regional Introduction to Judaism classes for many years, and formerly served on the faculty of both the University of Mary Washington and Germanna Community College.
His unique experience as a student of traditional Jewish liturgy AND in the informal worship styles of our camp and youth movements makes him an eclectic and innovative leader of worship services. The worship experiences connected to our congregation’s celebration of life-cycle events – especially B’nai Mitzvah and Confirmation – have been praised and celebrated for many years. And our youngest members love their Tot Shabbat time with Rabbi Steve!
His connection to Eretz Yisrael – the State of Israel -- is seen in his continuing involvement as a Regional leader of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA), which has recognized Temple Solel on multiple occasions for the depth and breadth of our support. In summer, 2006, he led a congregational pilgrimage to Israel, and is actively organizing the next such trip.
But most of all, Rabbi Steve is someone deeply committed to the ideals of family and community, of tikkun olam b’sheim Adonai (repair and improvement of the world in God’s name) and rodeif shalom (a seeker of peace in all its forms). For him, Judaism is more than religion, more than ethnic identity or culture – it truly is a way of life. But it is also something to be enjoyed – and it is that sense of enjoyment that comes through in all that he does – whether on the bimah, in the classroom, or on the softball field, holding a lulav at Sukkot or a guitar in his hand, helping out at the Bowie Food Pantry, sitting in his office, or visiting in members homes.