Temple Shalom Announces New Senior Rabbi

Rabbi Rachel Ackerman Selected as Senior Rabbi of Temple Shalom

Chevy Chase, MD. – Temple Shalom is pleased to announce that Rabbi Rachel Ackerman has been hired as the new senior rabbi of Temple Shalom in Chevy Chase, Maryland, beginning July 1, 2018.  

Most recently, Rabbi Ackerman served as the associate rabbi of Temple Shalom.  She joined Temple Shalom’s senior staff in 2011 and has served as the director of the religious school.  Rabbi Ackerman was selected as Temple Shalom’s senior rabbi following a nationwide search and approval by Temple Shalom’s Search Committee, Board of Trustees and Congregation.

“We are excited to have Rabbi Ackerman lead Temple Shalom,” said Temple Shalom President Rita Klein.  “Rabbi Ackerman’s teachings, spiritual strength, bond with our community, and commitment to social justice make her a natural fit for Temple Shalom.  We are looking forward to her leadership for years to come.”

“I am humbled and honored to have been chosen by Temple Shalom as its next senior rabbi,” said Rabbi Ackerman.  “We are a congregation that is warm, open, and inclusive. We value study, prayer, music, and social justice. I look forward to continuing our longstanding traditions, exploring new and relevant ways to live out our Jewish lives, and deepening our kehillah kedosha, sacred community.”

Rabbi Ackerman was ordained as a rabbi by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in 2011.  She earned her Master of Arts in Jewish Education from the Rhea Hirsch School of Education of HUC-JIR in 2009.

Previously, Rabbi Ackerman obtained her Bachelor of Arts from Brandeis University, majoring in psychology and sociology, with minors in Hebrew and Judaic studies —and a certification as a pre-school educator.   

Rabbi Ackerman’s formal installation will take place on Friday, October 19, 2018, as part of Erev Shabbat services.  Rabbi Ackerman succeeds Senior Rabbi John Franken, who served for one year as the interim Senior Rabbi at Temple Shalom.

“We are grateful to Rabbi Franken for his service as our interim senior rabbi during this one year transition,” said Temple Shalom President Klein.  “Rabbi Franken’s leadership, knowledge, teachings, and engagement with our temple community resulted in a very smooth transition. He has been a tremendous fit for our temple community.”

As the associate rabbi at Temple Shalom, Rabbi Ackerman has led the religious school, coordinated the Shabbat Morning Worship and Torah Study, attended to pastoral needs of congregants, performed life-cycle events, led services, served as a teacher and leader of classes and programs in a variety of settings and for congregants of all ages, and led and inspired Temple Shalom’s community to enhance its work on Tikkun Olam and social justice.

During her seven years at Temple Shalom, Rabbi Ackerman has been a consistent voice for inclusion and respect for all.  She has worked with Temple Shalom congregants on a number of initiatives, including co-facilitating the process that led to Kehillat Shalom (a reimagining of youth and family educational engagement), facilitating Temple Shalom’s engagement in the DREAM for Equality campaign (the passing of ballot initiatives regarding the Maryland DREAM Act and marriage equality), working with the team that created Kids’ Time (Sunday morning infant/toddler-adult educational program), and exploring opportunities for synagogue involvement in the Sanctuary movement.

Rabbi Ackerman has also served as a faculty member at URJ Camp Harlam, a chaperone for the Religious Action Center’s (RAC) L’Taken Social Justice Seminar, an executive committee member of the Greater Washington Education Directors Council, and is the co-chair of the RAC’s Urgency of Now Transgender Rights Campaign, which included co-leading a study session on transgender rights at the URJ Biennial in Boston in December 2017.  

Rabbi Ackerman acquired extensive experience and training during her student years.  For three years, she served as the Rabbinic and Education Intern at Temple Isaiah of Los Angeles, California, where she served as the Director of Tiyul: Shabbat B’Yachad, a Shabbat-based family education program that served as an alternative to religious school.

Additionally, Rabbi Ackerman worked for several summers as a unit head and the Director of Education at URJ Camp Newman, and has also served as the student rabbi of Har Shalom in Missoula, Montana, and Chaverim of Jewish Family Service in Los Angeles, California (a Jewish social and religious group for adults with developmental disabilities).  She completed the first level of chaplaincy certification in clinical pastoral education at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital of New Brunswick, New Jersey, and she has a special interest and developing expertise in issues relating to diversity, disability accessibility, and inclusion. Additionally, Rabbi Ackerman is very interested in interdenominational Jewish dialogue and Jewish community efforts on issues of local and global social justice.

Outside of the Jewish institutional setting, Rabbi Ackerman loves the outdoors and is an avid runner. She was a competitive cross-country and track runner throughout high school and college and continues to run, having completed more than a dozen marathons.

Rabbi JoHanna Potts, who served as Temple Shalom’s Director of Education in 1994 to 1997 and 2000 to 2007, will lead Temple Shalom’s Religious School for the next year as the Board of Trustees establishes a search committee to identify a permanent Director of Education.  


About Temple Shalom

Temple Shalom is a Reform Jewish community of approximately 400 families who celebrate the diversity of modern Judaism in the Washington, D.C. area by welcoming members as part of one congregational family, accepting us as we are, and encouraging our personal growth through programs and activities. Temple Shalom places Torah at the center, where serious learning is for everyone, where prayer and music is meaningful, participatory, and powerful, and where people feel a strong sense of belonging.

To remove the barriers to joining the Temple Shalom community, Temple Shalom is in the sixth year of its highly successful Gift of Membership Program.  Temple Shalom knows that it can take time to get to know a new community and ensure that the ruach (spirit) of that community is right for you.  Under the Gift of Membership Program, that process is made easier as new members enjoy the full benefits of membership with no membership dues during their first year.  

Media inquiries may be directed to Jeffrey Steger, Vice President and Chair of the Senior Rabbi Transition and Installation Committee at 301-433-5185.   Other questions about Temple Shalom and joining our community can be directed to Temple Shalom’s Membership Committee at membership@templeshalom.net, or to the Temple Office at 301-587-2273.

To learn more about Temple Shalom, visit us on our website at www.templeshalom.net.

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