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.