31 October 2017

What it means to be a holy community: A conversation with Rabbi David Ellenson you won’t want to miss!

Written by Rabbi Brian Stoller

Rabbi Stoller 2015 150On Rosh Hashanah this year, I spoke about my vision for Temple Israel as a holy community – a community where we feel known and loved by people who genuinely care, where we feel inspired to change our lives and to change the world, and where we feel valued for who we are and what we have to give  In a day and age when we are running constantly from one thing to the next, when our time and our resources are scarce and the demands on them are immense, a holy community can anchor us, nurture us spiritually, and be a place where we can seek and discover meaning and purpose in life through the brilliance of Jewish tradition. This weekend, we will dig deeply into what it means to be a holy community for ourselves, for each other, and for our children.

I am honored and delighted to welcome by teacher, my mentor, my role model, and my friend, Rabbi David Ellenson, to Omaha to help us begin this conversation. Rabbi Ellenson is a world-renowned scholar of Jewish history, ethics, and culture, an inspiring and engaging teacher, and one of Reform Judaism’s leading thinkers about the future of synagogue life in America. As a part-time doctoral student in the field of Jewish law, I have had the distinct privilege of studying with him one-on-one for the last several years. Words cannot adequately express what a joy and an honor it is for me to learn at the feet of one of Judaism’s shining lights – a man who not only radiates brilliance in Torah and scholarship but also, and more importantly, one who radiates compassion, sincerity, and a genuine love for humanity. Indeed, Rabbi Ellenson is a true mensch, one of the kindest, gentlest human beings you will ever meet.  I know you will enjoy learning with him and getting to know him throughout the weekend.

I would like to express my thanks to the Hermene Zweiback Center for Lifelong Jewish Learning for making Rabbi Ellenson’s visit to Omaha possible. Temple Israel is truly blessed to have such generous supporters who enable us to learn with some of the most outstanding Jewish scholars and teachers of our time.  

This is going to be an amazing weekend and I am so excited to spend it with you!


ellenson etidings


Friday, November 3

Celebratory Shabbat Dinner, 5:30 p.m.

Shabbat Installation Service, 7 p.m.
Jewish Meaning in a World of Choice: Visions of Synagogue Life in 21st-Century America
Judaism and Jewish institutions are changing rapidly as America’s open and accepting society offers American Jews countless opportunities for engagement in cultural, social, and civic life. Rabbi Ellenson, Rabbi Stoller, and Rabbi Azriel will offer insights as to why the synagogue is more important today than ever as a place where we can discover meaning and purpose through the brilliance of Jewish tradition.

Saturday, November 4

Morning Adult Study With Rabbi Ellenson, 9:15-10:15 a.m.
Do Not Separate Yourself from the Community: A Study in Principled Rabbinic Leadership
As some Orthodox leaders argued for hostile resistance and complete separation from the new Reform Jewish movement in 19th-century Germany, one Orthodox rabbi stood firmly for reconciliation. Rabbi Ellenson will examine this rabbi’s stance as an example of principled rabbinic leadership in the face of intense political pressure.  

Afternoon Study with Rabbi David Ellenson and Rabbi Brian Stoller, 1 - 2:30 p.m.
Reform, Resistance, & Change Management: The Great Organ-Music Controversy
Organ music, one of the most radical and controversial innovations that early Reform Jews introduced into the synagogue, sparked both outrage and intrigue in its time. Rabbi Stoller and Rabbi Ellenson will explore responses to the organ, and lead us in conversation about what the great organ controversy can teach us about managing inevitable change in Jewish worship practices.

Sunday, November 5

All School Family T’filah, 10 a.m.
Join our Religious School for this special time of t’filah, story, and song as we celebrate Rabbi Stoller’s Installation weekend.


About the Author

Rabbi Brian Stoller

Rabbi Brian Stoller

Rabbi Stoller - Senior Rabbi

Rabbi Stoller grew up in Houston, TX, and attended The University of Texas where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Honors Business Program & Finance in 1996. After graduation, he first worked as a Political Consultant and Hill Consultants in Houston and then serviced as Press Secretary for U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald (IL), Washington, DC. Rabbi Stoller has stated, “Seven years in politics is enough to drive you to God. That is my short explanation for why I left my career as a U.S. Senate press secretary to become a rabbi – although, in truth, there is a lot more to the story. While politics can certainly be disillusioning, I see my journey from the Capitol to the rabbinate as a personal spiritual evolution toward a fuller, more authentic version of myself, a deeper engagement with things that really matter, and the realization of my destiny to be a teacher and spiritual guide to others.”

Rabbi Stoller was previously the associate rabbi at Congregation B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim (BJBE), Deerfield, IL. He served at BJBE since 2008 when he was ordained as a rabbi from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati, OH, where he is currently also a Ph.D. Candidate in Rabbinics.

Rabbi Stoller is married to Karen Flayhart and they have two children, Lindsay (7) and Zachary (3). For enjoyment, Rabbi Stoller likes cycling and is learning to play ukulele with his daughter along with learning to read German.

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