Etz Hayim gets first assistant rabbi


On Oct. 27, Rabbi Joshua Ackerman was installed as the assistant rabbi and director of religious education at Congregation Etz Hayim in Arlington. The installing officer was Rabbi Adam Raskin, of Congregation Har Shalom in Potomac and the master of ceremonies was Jerold Jacobs, a past president of Etz Hayim and past international secretary of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. Some 150 congregants, friends, relatives and religious school students attended the event, including Etz Hayim’s Rabbi Emeritus Marvin I. Bash.

Etz Hayim, which was established in 1940, is the only conservative synagogue in Arlington County, and Ackerman is its first assistant rabbi. He was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York in 2012. Ackerman is a native of Dallas and brings with him a unique combination of Jewish and environmental studies. He graduated from Rutgers University, where he majored in natural resource management, with a concentration in conservation ecology and then studied Jewish texts and philosophy at the Conservative yeshiva in Jerusalem, after which he entered the rabbinical school at JTS, where he also received a master’s degree in Jewish education. In his role as Etz Hayim’s director of religious education, Ackerman is principal of the religious school and is also in charge of Etz Hayim’s overall adult education programming, in coordination with Senior Rabbi Lia Bass and related lay committees.

The installation program included two songs in Ackerman’s honor performed by Bass, Sonya Okin and the musicians of Etz Hayim’s monthly Musical Kabbalat Shabbat Service. Merle Wexler, co-chair of the search committee, presented Ackerman with a certificate for a tallit, kippah and bag to be designed and executed by fiber artist and Judaic folklorist Shirley Waxman.

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