Tikvat Israel Congregation in Rockville has named a rabbi with a local connection to lead the Conservative synagogue beginning July 1.
Rabbi Marc Israel will succeed Rabbi Benjamin Shull.
Israel has served as associate rabbi of Temple Beth Hillel–Beth El in the Philadelphia suburb of Wynnewood since 2013. Before that he was the rabbi educator at Ohr Kodesh Congregation in Chevy Chase.
Israel is “very connected with Montgomery County,” said Jim Perlmutter, co-president of Tikvat Israel, adding that was seen as a factor in Israel’s favor. “I think he fits the bill on a lot of different levels. He made a very strong impressions in terms of education [and] on his journey. He just made a very positive impression in terms of authenticity and warmth.”
“My family has a deep love and attachment to the area,” Israel said in a phone interview. “My mother and father-in-law are in Potomac. My kids were all born in D.C. We have many dear friends here.”
He added, “And we’re tired of being in Philadelphia sports territory. We’re Washington Nationals and Capitals fans.”
Israel said he wants to find ways to increase Tikvat Israel’s membership and to make the congregation more welcoming, including to families with LGBT parents.
“I want to make sure everybody knows they have a home at Tikvat Israel,” he said.
According to Perlmutter, Israel was one of two final candidates the synagogue was looking at. But when it came time decide, there was little debate. The search committee came to a consensus recommendation and the congregation’s board voted unanimously to hire Israel.
“Everybody felt it was the best decision for us to bring Marc Israel to our congregation,” Perlmutter said, “He has an energy, a spirit, a strong commitment to learning and education.”
“Rabbi Israel is a fantastic, dynamic leader as he has demonstrated in the past, both here and in Philly,” said Danny Bachman, who co-chaired the search committee. “We look forward to having him come and provide that dynamic leadership to our synagogue.”
Israel graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1992. He earned his rabbinic ordination in 1998 from the Hebrew Union College’s Jewish Institute of Religion, and he joined the Conservative Movement’s Rabbinical Assembly in 2007. He has been a member of the R.A.’s Social Action Commission.
Shull, who became Tikvat Israel’s rabbi in 2015, announced in September that he would not be extending his four-year contract in 2019. The congregation posted a job listing to succeed Shull in December.
In December, then-Board President Melanie Grishman said Shull worked to make the congregation a more welcoming place for interfaith families. “We hadn’t really focused on how best to serve them before.”