Rabbi Laura Rappaport
Rabbi Laura Rappaport is thrilled to be able to creatively share her passion for Jewish growth, learning and values with the members of Temple Beth Orr. She has a background as a pulpit rabbi, a Director of Congregational Learning, a board-certified hospital chaplain, a director of non-profits, an adjunct college faculty member, an educator for all ages in many settings, and the mother of two.
Rabbi Rappaport grew up in rural Northwest New Jersey and received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She received her M.A.H.L. and Rabbinic Ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (Jerusalem and Cincinnati campuses). She has also completed Masters’ level courses in Bio-ethics from Rush University and University of Washington and Doctoral level courses in Jewish Studies from Spertus College in Chicago.
Rabbi Rappaport’s diverse career has been characterized by the embracing of new opportunities and experiences at every stage; she encourages others to take this same approach on their own unique paths. She has lived in nearly every region of the country – from serving pulpits and running a sexual assault crisis center in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, to serving adjunct rabbinic functions in Omaha to working in pulpits, hospital
chaplaincy and non-profit settings around the Pacific Northwest to running the family education program at Congregation Beth El in Bethesda, Maryland to directing the educational program at her childhood synagogue, Temple Shalom in Succasunna, New Jersey.
Much of her adult life has been spent in Boise, Idaho, where she focused on serving small congregations around the Pacific Northwest including Sun Valley, Idaho; Great Falls, Montana; Bainbridge Island, Washington; Bend, Oregon in addition to working with her home congregation in Boise. While in Idaho, she was founding director of the Idaho Children’s Trust Fund, a statewide child abuse prevention foundation. She taught Introduction to Judaism classes at the College of Idaho. For ten years she worked as a Board certified chaplain at both of Boise’s acute care hospitals and the physical rehabilitation facility.
She is immensely proud of her two daughters, Tanya and Rosa. Tanya is a Registered Dietician, working for a non-profit in Seattle that advocates for a socially-equitable and ecologically-sound food system. Rosa is an Environmental Resource Engineer, currently living in Tel Aviv. Rabbi Rappaport enjoys running/working out, indie/alternative music, listening to The Moth and This American Life, hiking, occasionally playing the hammered dulcimer, and discovering cultural/educational/artistic experiences that seem cool, quirky and interesting. You can follow her dog Roxie on Instagram @roxiepuppiegirl
You can email Rabbi Rappaport at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rabbi Mark Wm. Gross
Rabbi Gross recently became Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Beth Orr, after serving for 29 years as Senior Rabbi. Rabbi Gross has used his position on the pulpit of Temple Beth Orr to create an inclusive atmosphere. His goals have always been “to make members of the community feel listened to, cared about, connected to their tradition,” he says. Coming from a family of eighteen generations of rabbis enables him to “find deep meaning in the staggering privilege of bringing members of our people to encounters with their heritage of faith.”
His encounters at Temple Beth Orr have been broad: from the monthly Come-as-You-Are Shabbat Experience; to the Religious School’s emphasis on Confirmation as a primary goal; to contemporary alternative services for Shabbat, Rosh haShanah and Yom Kippur. These initiatives by Rabbi Gross have helped to create a strong community where so many feel like a true, meaningful part of the congregation’s extended family.
Cantorial Soloist Andrew David Susman
Andy is delighted to be sharing his passion for Jewish music and liturgy with the Temple Beth Orr community. His spiritual journey has encompassed the broad spectrum of Jewish movements. Andy has a degree in Social Work from Florida International University. In 1987, with the encouragement of Cantor Nancy Hausman, he became a fledgling song leader at TBO. His synthesis of social work and music was evident early on; working as a Sunday and Hebrew School teacher, a summer camp song leader, and in a dropout-prevention program in Miami-Dade County.
Andy has attended several CAJE conferences, was a member of the JNF Performing Artists’ Troupe, and twice participated in Hava Nashira – the Reform Movement’s Song Leader Training Institute. In 2008, Andy created Hearts, Minds & Music, Inc., as a vehicle for communicating the “Light and Joy of Judaism & Spirituality through prayer,
music, imagery, and text.” He has released two contemporary Jewish music albums: A Prayer Journey (2010) and Generations (2015).
Andy’s twin sons, Evan and Bryan, bring him much naches. Evan, a Rabbinic intern in Los Angeles, is completing his fifth year of study. Bryan, with an MA in Educational Leadership, worked in the Jewish community in New York City before making Aliyah with his wife, Tamar, last year. Andy enjoys movies, participating in song circles, listening to a wide range of NPR programming, and taking early morning walks. Grateful to be alive, Andy embraces the philosophy of Henry David Thoreau: “Only that day dawns to which we are awake.”