Rabbi Jordan Hersh can finally have a rest from his twice monthly commutes from New York City to Frederick.After one year of leading services, teaching and counseling part time at Beth Sholom Congregation, he has been named the congregation’s full-time rabbi.
Hersh, 32, had been working at the 150-member synagogue as a Gladstein Fellow, a program designed to give students from the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary intensive experiences in both being a rabbi and a community developer.
The synagogue has been without a full-time rabbi for several years and has undergone much change during that time. The congregation had been unaffiliated with any of the major Jewish denominations but joined the Conservative movement roughly two years ago, Hersh said.
The Frederick synagogue had always been unaffiliated, but its previously rabbis were Orthodox, he explained. Hersh’s goal is to continue paving the way for Beth Sholom to operate fully as an egalitarian Conservative community, he said. Frederick already is home to both a Reform and a Chabad synagogue.
Hersh said he plans to work closely with his fellow rabbis there to build a “thriving” and “vibrant” Jewish community. Hersh said Frederick’s isn’t the only Jewish community on his mind lately. He has just returned from a four day-long trip to Israel with fellow rabbis.
There he got an up close and personal view of the war, visiting Israeli “children who are spending their summer in shelters.” Hersh is no stranger to Israel, having once lived there for two years. While doing so, he served as a rabbinic intern at a Masorti congregation in Be’ersheva.
He also participated in the Shalom Hartman Rabbinical Students Seminar, a yearlong program that brings together rabbinical students from all Jewish denominations.
Additionally, he has held a rabbinical student fellowship with the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership’s Rabbis Without Borders. He also has served as a hospice chaplain at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York. Hersh grew up in upstate New York and received his ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is married to Shulie Hersh, who is in her last year as a cantorial student at the Academy for Jewish Religion.
She will be joining her husband part time at the synagogue, leading High Holiday services, developing and conducting a music program for the Early Childhood Center preschool students and holding a leadership role with the congregation’s Tot Shabbat and Junior Congregation services.
When not involved in their synagogue responsibilities, the Hershes enjoy playing music together (he’s on guitar) and hiking. He also is a cycling enthusiast and has participated in long-distance bike rides.
Hersh said he is looking forward to getting to know his congregants and the area better, and is “really excited to be here in the Greater Washington and Baltimore communities.”