Like his father before him, Jeremy Weisblatt felt a calling.
Now, after years of study and work with various Jewish congregations, Weisblatt is the new rabbi at Beth Sholom Temple in Fredericksburg.
“It is a sacred calling for me to serve the Jewish community,” said the 28-year-old, newly married Weisblatt.
He was particularly drawn to the Virginia synagogue, especially because it wasn’t too large and that he could be what he referred to as the solo rabbi. He is looking forward to being involved in “Torah, worship and acts of loving-kindness” with all the 130 “covenantal partners,” he explained. “I want to grow with them and learn with them,” he said. “I am very blessed to be in this community. I am very excited” to work both within the synagogue as well as the greater Fredericksburg area, he said.
The congregation is equally excited to have Weisblatt as its spiritual leader. “Jeremy is a very special person. Number one, he very much wants to be the rabbi of a small, energetic and growing congregation,” said Robert Gettlin, who led the rabbinic search committee and is chairing the rabbinical transition committee. “He has a passion for leading, for making a change,” Gettlin said, adding, “He’s very learned.”
All the professors and rabbis with whom Gettlin spoke praised Weisblatt for his “work ethic, commitment, knowledge and desire to connect with people. Everything we were looking for, we feel, he brings to the table,” Gettlin said. Weisblatt grew up in Bucks County, Pa., the son of a rabbi. His father, who died in 20 years ago, last served at Temple Ohev Sholom in Harrisburg, Pa.
“I would definitely say that my father’s life and work greatly inspired me,” as did several rabbis whom Weisblatt met along his journey to the rabbinate. Weisblatt attended Schreyer Honors College at Penn State University, where he graduated with three majors and one minor.
When he wasn’t immersed in Jewish studies, classics, ancient Mediterranean studies and international politics, Weisblatt probably could be found at the Hillel house, where he successfully worked together with the Muslim Student Association and Penn State Food Services to bring kosher and halal food to the school cafeteria.
“I just love to give it my all,” he said of anything that interests him. “I live up to a challenge,” he said, adding, “We are blessed with only so much time on earth.” Weisblatt uses some of that time to run and practice Akido, where he has a black belt and hopes to earn a second one someday.
After Penn State, he entered The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, but returned to his roots and graduated from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York.
While a student, he worked with one large and two small synagogues and was a teacher at a Hebrew high school. Weisblatt was married in June. His wife, Marissa, a trained social worker, designed their chuppah and wedding invitations, and plans to launch her own local design business.