50 Year Honorees


Aaron Koplin

Alan Bregman

Deceased 7/23/2001

Barry Tabachnikoff

Deceased 11/11/2003

Daniel Polish

Donald Splansky

Dov Taylor

Paying It Forward/Engineering a Life: Dov Taylor
Many great teachers helped to shape me. Martin Rozenberg provided a model of independent thinking and unimpeachable integrity; Avraham Aaroni gave me a love for and a solid grounding in Hebrew; Chanan Brichto demonstrated an original mind at work; Henry Slonimsky touched me with his fire, Howard Nemerov with his charity. Perhaps most of all, it was my first teacher—my dear mother, z”l—whose example of endless love, compassion, wisdom and quiet dignity I internalized early on. Though I can never repay my debt to my teachers, I have tried to honor the debt by paying it forward.

It was my good fortune to found the Torah Corps, thanks to the vision and support of Hank Skirball, and to direct it for twenty summers, touching the lives of several hundred of our teenagers from across the U.S. and Canada; to serve four wonderful congregations, culminating in twenty-five years at Congregation Solel in Highland Park, Illinois; to spend two academic years in Israel and to teach entering rabbinic students at HUC-JIR in Jerusalem; to enjoy productive sabbatical leaves at both Oxford and Harvard; to publish my translation of, and commentary to, the first Hebrew novel—Joseph Perl’s Revealer of Secrets (1819) and to prepare its sequel, Testing the Righteous, for publication; to present a paper at an international academic conference at the Hebrew University; and most recently, to lead an interfaith encounter in Israel and Palestine, which produced a riveting documentary—Seeing through the Wall: Finding Ourselves in Palestine and Israel.

When someone expresses surprise that I left engineering in favor of the rabbinate, I explain that I never left engineering. I look back with gratitude at my undergraduate years at Brooklyn Tech and The Cooper Union—excellent preparation for thinking through a problem and designing a solution, whether for electrical circuits or human relations—which led to the creation of Chavurat Ki-tov: A Gathering for Jewish Life and Learning.

This summer marks fifty years since my ordination in New York, as well as fifty years of marriage to my darling Judith, whose endless creativity is a constant source of inspiration and delight. We are proud to be the parents of two wise and compassionate children, Yael and Jesse, and happy to be living in Vermont, near the mountains we love. Jesse and I are in the process of building a tiny house on a trailer, and I look forward with eager anticipation to whatever challenges come next.

Francois Garai

Fredric Pomerantz

Native of Pittsburgh, PA...
Grew up in small-town western PA
Attended Penn State University Graduated University of Pittsburgh, 1961
Editor, The Weekly News, Southwest Pittsburgh, 1961-62
Hebrew Union College 1962-68 (year as student rabbi at Wembly and District Liberal Synagogue, London 1965-66
Rodef Shalom Congregation, Pittsburgh, PA assistant rabbi 1968-70, associate rabbi 1970-73
Temple Beth El of Northern Valley, Closter, NJ rabbi 1973-2005, rabbi emeritus 2005 to present
Temple Agudas Achim, Livingston Manor, NY rabbi 2005 to present
Rodef Shalom Congregation - developed high school and college Jewish Coffee Houses
Editor, Seeker Magazine (national Jewish magazine for college students)
Developed Sim Shalom musical service, regional and national tours, recordings
Training as family therapist, University of Pittsburgh Medical School Temple Beth El of Northern Valley
Member Liturgy Committee CCAR 1974 - 1980 which produced Gates of Prayer, Gates of Repentance, and Gates of the Home prayer books
Post-graduate training in family therapy, Ackerman Institute, NYC
Founding chairman CCAR Media Committee
President, Reform Rabbis of New Jersey
Board member of Central Conference of American Rabbis
Interfaith Cooperation Award, B'nai Brith International
Producer interfaith programming with World Association of Christian Communicators
Continued Sim Shalom musical service national and regional tours Temple Agudas Achim
Continued Sim Shalom and family therapy study

Howard Bogot

Howard Bogot is a graduate of Lewis University...
formerly National College of Education, (B.Ed) in Evanston, Illinois; the University of Cincinnati and the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (B.H.L., M.H.L., Rabbinic Ordination, Doctor of Divinity) in Cincinnati, Ohio. In addition to receiving his M.Ed from the University of Cincinnati and graduate degrees from HUC-JIR, Rabbi Bogot has completed post-graduate course work in education and social work at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and Hunter College in New York City.

Prior to accepting the positions of Director for the Department of Religious Education, as well as Curriculum Development and Special Projects (1981–1996) for the Union of Reform Judaism (formerly the Union of American Hebrew Congregations), Rabbi Bogot provided administrative, consultative, and academic leadership (1968–1981) for Gratz College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the oldest Hebrew Teachers College in the Western Hemisphere.

From 1992–1996 Howard Bogot served as a faculty member of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Marymount Manhattan College, and Fordham University in the capacity of Clinical Professor of Education and Assistant Professor in the departments of Humanities and Theology.

From 1996–2001, while on a consultancy in the State of Israel, Rabbi Bogot was given the rank of Professor on the faculty of the New Immigrant English Teacher Education program at Israel’s Beit Berl College. He provided students with seminars in Jewish Identity Values, English Proficiency and Pedagogy. The rabbi also co-founder, educational consultant and faculty for the Institute on Creative Jewish Thought in Netanya, Israel and a member of the Advisory Board for the Peace Education Commission of the World Conference on Religion and Peace.

Howard Bogot has authored and co-authored many books, syllabi and lesson plans. Published by both the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, these writings include: A Children’s Haggadah, My First 100 Hebrew Words, Yoni, Days of Awe, Days of Wonder, A Storyteller’s Judaism, Welcome to the World of Torah, The Aleph-Bet of Jewish Values, An Artist You Don’t Have To Be, Parents Are Teachers Too, AIDS: A Glossary of Jewish Values, Learn Hebrew Today, I Learn About God, Prayer Is Reaching, Books Are Treasures, My Body is Something Special, I’m Growing, Becky and Benny Thank God and Seder With the Animals. Pitspopany Press (Jerusalem/New York) published Seven Animal Stories and Seven Animals Wag Their Tails that Rabbi Bogot co-authored with his wife, Mary K. Bogot.

In December 1999, the CCAR Press released book, Shalom, Salaam, Peace; a trilingual (Hebrew, Arabic & English) book for young children dedicated to the memories of His Majesty King Hussein (Jordan) and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (Israel). This book introduces young readers to the concepts of self-actualization and Tikkun Olam (world repair) as hallmarks of peace.

Since 2001, Rabbi Bogot has served Auerbach Central Agency for Jewish Education and the University of Pennsylvania’s Literacy Network as a Jewish studies facilitator for their Nurturing Excellence in Supplementary Jewish Schools project and Old York Road Temple-Beth Am, in Abington, Pennsylvania invited him to accept the title of Honorary Dean of Lifelong Jewish Study.

In 2005, the University of Pennsylvania asked Howard Bogot to mentor 30 teachers at Cheltenham High School. Rabbi Bogot served for seven years as the Visiting Scholar for Temple Judea of Bucks County in Doylestown, PA and taught multiple years of adult education seminars at Philadelphia area congregations Beth Am, Kol Ami, and Rodeph Shalom.

In 2012, Rabbi Bogot was invited to teach a seminar on Jewish Civilization at the Penn State Abington campus of Penn State University. He currently serves as Lecturer in Jewish Studies with a roll-out of two, classic text-based courses per semester through 2018.

Mary K. (z”l) and Howard Bogot have four children and nine grandchildren.

Howard Shapiro

Ordained in 1968, I went from the hills on Clifton Avenue...
to the "embrace" of the US Army as a Chaplain at Fort Belvoir, VA with ancillary duties at Arlington National Cemetery. A year later I was stationed in Nha Trang Vietnam with primary responsibilities for the Jewish soldiers in II Corps. Returning home safe and sound and maybe more appreciative of much that we take for granted, I spent from 1970–1981 practicing being a congregational rabbi at Temple Sha'arey Shalom in Springfield, NJ. In 1981, we followed the migration south and I moved to Temple Israel in West Palm Beach, FL. It is here that I spent the remainder of my rabbinic career, retiring from Temple Israel in 2008. I am lucky/blessed to say: It has been a great ride despite the curves and bumps few of us escape. I am currently the vice chair of the RPB and have served as an officer and board member. It has been an amazing experience of service and of watching and helping the Board grow and change to meet the needs of its participants. As I write this it is tempting to look back and think that this 50th anniversary moment is all about the past, but not for me and not for now. I celebrate the blessing to grow into what might yet come. Thank God for what was, what is, and what will be.

Ira Youdovin

Kenneth Weiss

Deceased 4/27/2014

Norman Mendel

Philip Posner

A congregational rabbi for fifty years...

I have been active in Social Action and interfaith activities my entire career. In 1961 I joined the Freedom Rides, helping to integrate transportation facilities, and served 39 days in Parchman Penitentiary in Mississippi. I have also participated in social action missions to El Salvador and Ethiopia, and co-founded, with my friend Jane Fellman, the Rabbinic Network for Ethiopian Jewry which encouraged my rabbinic colleagues to help get Ethiopian Jews to Israel. At present I am an advocate for the homeless community in Santa Cruz California and am the Board Secretary of my local Temple.

I have a degree in history from UCLA, was ordained in 1968 and twenty five years later earned a Doctorate in Ethics from my seminary, The Hebrew Union College - JIR.

After ordination I was an Assistant Rabbi at the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation, commonly known as the Temple, in Atlanta; then for 24 years was the rabbi of Temple Beth El in Riverside California. I then served two years as the rabbi of Beth Shalom, Auckland NZ, four years at Mizpah congregation in Chattanooga, and three years as a part time rabbi in Ajijic Mexico, where I met my wife Louise. More recently I have been one of the part time rabbis at Beth Shalom in San Juan PR.

In addition to enjoying riding my bicycle, I relish cooking and baking, which with my doctorate inspired me to write my book on ethics, famous people, with their favorite recipes: The Rabbi and His Famous Friends, Food for Thought, Character and Soul – Recipes and Blessings Included.

In addition to feeling honored that almost 10,000 individuals have bought my book, I am blessed with two terrific sons, and four grandchildren. My wonderful and talented Louise and I divide our time between Santa Cruz, and our home in Mexico, near Guadalajara.

Theodore Falcon

Martin Buber’s philosophy and Hasidic spiritual revival...
along with my attraction to intensive small group experiences, brought me to rabbinical school. Five years later, as a senior at HUC-JIR in Cincinnati, I had my life mapped out: I accepted a Fellowship to the Social Psychology Department at the University of Michigan, along with an appointment to the part-time congregation there. But Richard Levy, an upper-class mentor at HUC, urged me to meet with his senior rabbi, Leonard Beerman, z”l, even though I insisted I was not available to be his next assistant.

Nevertheless, Leonard offered me the job, and then brought me to Los Angeles to meet some members of Leo Baeck Temple, a congregation famous for its social activism and non-theological teachings. Just before I was to return to Cincinnati, having once again declined his offer, Leonard said something like, “When I was beginning my career, I wish I had been able to be with someone who could help me with things like weddings and funerals.” Suddenly feeling how very unprepared I was, I said, “Okay. I’m coming.”

Not everyone was happy with my sudden change of direction, but, months later, when I met with a father and three children who brought with them the suicide note of their 41-year-old wife and mother, I gratefully marched into my senior rabbi’s office and laid out the situation. “What do I do?” I asked. He thought for a moment, then said, “I have no idea. Let me know what you do.” It took me a long time to get past my sense of betrayal and realize what a gift Leonard had given me. In many ways, that moment pushed me onto my own path, needing to trust my own instincts and access a deeper Wisdom.

Pursuing my interest in small-group process, I became a Sensitivity Group leader. In the context of that intense training, some of the shells around my heart broke open, and things began to change both personally and professionally. Returning from a week at Esalen Institute in December 1969, a rockslide on Highway One shattered my basic sense of reality with what I later learned was called an OOBE, an out-of-body experience. Although it was some time before I would share that with others, I awakened to an identity beyond the limits of my physical self. Because of the profound clarity of that realization, I began learning and practicing meditation, hoping to revisit that sacred space less dramatically. I was no longer the same person who had been hired by Leo Baeck Temple a year and a half earlier, and I declined an offer of a third year.

This time, I followed Richard Levy into the Hillel environment, and at Cal State University, Northridge, I worked with Rabbi Michael Roth, a yeshiva classmate of Shlomo Carlebach, who would become my primary teacher, mentor, and friend, until his death in early 2017. Because spirituality and meditation had become primary for me, but were not core agendas of synagogue life, I entered a graduate program at the California School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles, where I could more openly pursue my spiritual and psychological interests. Away from the professional rabbinate, I found a surprisingly natural way of being rabbi, counseling and officiating at life-cycle moments for faculty and fellow students. Since that time, I have focused on sharing the spiritual authenticity at the heart of Jewish tradition, developing a psycho-spiritual approach to Torah. My work has included the founding of two meditative synagogues (Makom Ohr Shalom in Los Angeles in 1978, and Bet Alef in Seattle in 1993); practicing as a therapist and spiritual counselor; becoming, along with Pastor Don Mackenzie and Imam Jamal Rahman, an Interfaith Amigo; and authoring or co-authoring a number of books.

While I retired from congregational life at the end of 2009, I continue to write, do counseling, travel with my Amigos, and work as an independent teacher of a universal spirituality based in Jewish text and tradition, seeking universal teachings from other great spiritual paths in order to support the healing of person and planet that needs to be. I am deeply grateful for the road less traveled on which I have found myself.

Uri Themal