08 November 2017

Love, Joy, and Gratitude from Rabbi Brian Stoller

Written by Rabbi Brian Stoller

3clergyDear Friends,

Karen, Lindsay, Zachary, and I want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the amazing Rabbinic Installation celebration last weekend! Our hearts are filled with love, joy, and gratitude for the warm way in which you officially welcomed us into the Temple Israel family! The Shabbat dinner Friday evening was elegant and delicious, the installation service created by Cantor Shermet and Rabbi Berezin was powerful for our community and so touching to me personally, the Shabbat morning service and lunch were uplifting and welcoming, and the study sessions were inspiring and exhilarating!  It was such an incredible honor for me to share the bima with my revered teacher, Rabbi David Ellenson, and our beloved Rabbi Emeritus Aryeh Azriel, both of who are role models for me of warmth, intellect, vision, and principled leadership.

Thank you to all the volunteers, our lay leadership, and our outstanding clergy and professional team who put this wonderful weekend together for our community, and thank you to the Hermene Zweiback Center for Lifelong Jewish Learning for sponsoring Rabbi Ellenson’s visit to Omaha! Temple Israel is such a kind, loving community of people who are generous of heart and spirit, and I am so excited to officially begin our journey together!

As we began the installation service on Friday night, the Torah scroll was passed through the hands of our current board and past presidents, to Rabbi Azriel, and then to me. I received it from them, and from you, as a sacred trust, with an open heart and a willing soul. As we go forward together, we will honor the legacy of those who led us to where we are today and, standing on their shoulders, we will look toward the horizon to imagine the future and bring it to life in innovative and exciting ways!

Thank you again for giving me this tremendous honor and incredible opportunity to serve as your rabbi! 

With much love and affection,

Rabbi Stoller

Watch each rabbis remarks from the Installation Service.
Rabbi Azriel is first to speak, Rabbi Ellenson starts at 10:30, and Rabbi Stoller speaks of his vision for the synagogue life at the 40:05.

 

 

About the Author

Rabbi Brian Stoller

Rabbi Brian Stoller

Rabbi Stoller - Senior Rabbi
bstoller@templeisraelomaha.com

Rabbi A. Brian Stoller joined Temple Israel as Senior Rabbi in 2017. He is a friendly, patient, and welcoming presence known for greeting people warmly, remembering our names, and just being himself. He is also an energetic, knowledgable, and passionate teacher who challenges us intellectually and guides us in mining Judaism’s sacred texts for insights that will help us navigate the unique circumstances of our own lives. As a prayer leader, he strives to pray not on behalf ofhis congregants, but with us, so that together we can rise toward the heavens. Most importantly, he is a caring and devoted relationship-builder who genuinely enjoys people and wants to be our friend. As Rabbi Stoller has said, “I just go out there and try to be myself because I believe that, in the end, all of us are seeking the same thing: to feel loved, to find meaning and purpose in life, and to be embraced by people who genuinely care. In my view, a synagogue’s mission is to create this kind of community for its members. All the rest, as they say, is commentary.”

Following the dictum that “the teacher of Torah must be a student of Torah throughout his life,” Rabbi Stoller is currently pursuing a doctorate in halakhah (Jewish law) and has published a number of essays on Jewish law, practice, and theology. He is an active member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), serving on the Responsa Committee, the annual convention planning team, and the editorial board of the CCAR Journal. Rabbi Stoller received his ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s Cincinnati campus in 2008, and served as Associate Rabbi of Congregation BJBE in Deerfield, IL from 2008-2017. He grew up in Houston, TX (Congregation Emanu El), and earned a degree in Honors Business and Finance from the University of Texas at Austin in 1996.

Before entering rabbinic school, Rabbi Stoller spent seven years in professional politics, working on campaigns in Texas, Colorado, and Illinois, and serving as Press Secretary to then-U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald (IL) in Washington, DC from 1999-2003. After seeing the Pentagon burn from his office window on September 11, 2001 and learning of a childhood friend’s death from brain cancer a year later, Brian knew the time had come to follow his deeply-held desire to become a rabbi. “It was then that I finally understood: life is fragile; we do not know how long we are going to be here,” he has said. “For several years, I had been too fearful, too anxious about change to pursue what I knew in my heart I wanted to do with my life, but now I was ready to go for it. Aside from marrying Karen and starting a family, it was the best decision I have ever made.”

Rabbi Stoller is proud to be part of Temple Israel, which he describes as “a warm, friendly, welcoming, close-knit congregation, with the vision and the courage to change our community and our world for the better.” He lives in Omaha with his wife Karen and his two children, Lindsay and Zachary. In his free time, Rabbi Stoller enjoys reading classical Jewish texts (yes, really!), cycling, and re-watching episodes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

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