CEO Column: July 2023 Jewish Outlook
This Summer Brings a Season of Growth, Connection and Transition
We are already approaching mid-summer, and camp season is fully underway. Overnight camp is off to a great start at Camp Young Judaea, Greene Family Camp and many other Jewish camps throughout North America, where many of our youth, teens, college students, community members and professionals will participate throughout the summer. This is our largest camp season in Shalom Austin history, as JCamps is experiencing sold out sessions. I do not have to convince you how critical Jewish summer camps are to building strong Jewish identities connected to Jewish peoplehood. Our community should be proud of how many of our youth and teens attend summer camps on an annual basis. The camps complement and align with the incredible work that our Jewish institutions do throughout the school year.
Summer is also a time of transitions. We congratulate Rabbi Alan Freedman, a dear friend and colleague, for his retirement from Temple Beth Shalom. Rabbi Freedman has been such an important community leader, and we look forward to his continued involvement in the greater Austin Jewish community. We wish Rabbi Eleanor Steinman a mazel tov for beginning her tenure as senior rabbi at Temple Beth Shalom. Rabbi Steinman will be adding a new member to her clergy team, Rabbi Will Hall, as assistant rabbi. Rabbi Will Hall served as rabbi and senior educator at Texas Hillel for the past two years before joining Temple Beth Shalom.
Speaking of Texas Hillel, we congratulate Cheryl Hersh for successfully leading Texas Hillel as the interim executive director. Rabbi Stephanie Max is beginning her tenure as Texas Hillel’s new executive director. Rabbi Max is joined by Rabbi Andy Weissfeld who will be succeeding Rabbi Will Hall as the new rabbi and senior educator. Austin Jewish Academy (AJA) welcomed Kari Loya as their interim head of school. Kari brings a wealth of experience to AJA. Heather Kantrowitz, who served as acting head of school for the 2022-2023 school-year, will continue as the director of Jewish studies.
Finally, in this issue, you will have an opportunity to reflect on the incredible 75th anniversary Israel celebration that took place on the campus with over 1,000 people in attendance. We also look forward to the many other ways we are celebrating this incredible milestone, including the first ever community mission trip to Israel in November. As you will read, our community continues to invest in ways to connect our community to Israel and the Jewish people, thanks to the leadership of the newly established Israel and peoplehood committee.
Wishing everyone a restful and refreshing summer season!
Rabbi Daniel A. Septimus
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