A conservative, egalitarian synagogue

Clergy

  • GORDON TUCKER, Senior Rabbi  
  • ARI ISENBERG-GRZEDA, Associate Rabbi 
  • GEORGE MORDECAI, Cantor
  • JACOB BEN-ZION MENDELSON, Cantor Emeritus
  • RABBI DINA SHARGEL, Ritual Director 
  • LOUIS POLISSON, Rabbinic Intern

 senior Rabbi Gordon Tucker 

Tucker.Rabbi_0146_TouchedUp500pxRabbi Gordon Tucker has been at Temple Israel Center since 1994. In 2003, he was named Senior Rabbi.

A native of New York City, he holds the A.B. degree from Harvard University and a Ph.D. (in Philosophy) from Princeton University. He was ordained a Rabbi in 1975 by The Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTSA).

Since coming to Temple Israel Center, Rabbi Tucker has worked to strengthen three primary areas of Jewish life: education for all ages, the spirituality of worship, and the obligation to reach out to the less fortunate.

Rabbi Tucker joined the faculty of JTSA in 1976 and has taught there continuously ever since. He is currently Adjunct Assistant Professor of Jewish Philosophy. From 1984 to 1992, he was Dean of the Rabbinical School at JTSA, in which capacity he directed the training of over 200 rabbis.

He is Honorary Chairman (and former Chairman) of the Board of the Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel, and served on the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly from 1982 to 2007.

While on a leave of absence from JTSA beginning in 1979, Rabbi Tucker served as a White House Fellow in the office of United States Attorney General Benjamin R. Civiletti.

Rabbi Tucker is the author of numerous articles on a wide range of subjects in Jewish thought, and most recently published a translation with commentary (entitled "Heavenly Torah") on Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel's major three-volume Hebrew work on rabbinic theology.

Contact Rabbi Tucker at 914-948-2800 ext. 115 or by email.

CANTOR GEORGE MORDECAI

Cantor George Mordecai weaves his rich cultural heritage into his work as a performer and cantor. Born in Sydney, Australia to Iraqi and Indian Jewish immigrants, he was immersed from an early age in the musical and liturgical traditions of his family.He went on to help lead services at the Sephardic Synagogue in Sydney and appeared at various multicultural music festivals around Australia. George also sang with the Renaissance Players, a renowned and innovative early music ensemble based at Sydney University, and with the Capella Floriani, a musical and theatrical company devoted to a spiritual vision of the performing arts.

He received his Cantorial investiture and master’s degree in sacred music from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2000. He has worked as a cantor in Sydney, Philadelphia, Miami, Stamford and is currently the Cantor at Temple Israel Center in White Plains, New York. George has performed Jewish liturgical repertoire in concert halls and synagogues in England, Paris, Israel, and various cities around the U.S. He has also performed in interfaith settings with Middle Eastern, Indian and African American musicians. In 2007 he met Patrick Quigley, artistic director of the world renowned choral ensemble Seraphic Fire, and together they developed a performance project, Shalom/Pax, which drew from the rich motivic and melismatic textures of the Gregorian and Jewish musical traditions.

George has devoted his life to pursuing a vision of devotional music that speaks to the sacred interconnectedness of all humanity and continues to work on projects that support this vision.

Contact Cantor Mordecai at 914-948-2800 ext.152 or by email.

ASSOCIATE RABBI ARI ISENBERG-GRZEDA

Rabbi Ari Isenberg-Grzeda joined the leadership team at Temple Israel Center as its Associate Rabbi in 2015.  Ari’s passion for the pulpit emerged at an early age in his hometown of Montreal, Quebec. Ari is dedicated to pastoral work, community leadership, and creating meaningful, sacred moments in the lives of his congregants.
 
Ari was ordained as Rabbi by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he also achieved an M.A. in Sacred Music.  While at the Seminary, he was named Tanenbaum Fellow of Toronto’s Beth Tzedec, Leffell Fellow of AIPAC, and Rabbinic Intern-in-Residence of Masorti France’s Dor Vador, Maayane Or, and Saint Germain-en-Laye communities.  Additionally, he worked to establish and run a Kabbalat Shabbat series at the Jerusalem Open House. Upon ordination, Ari returned to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he had previously served Congregation Shaar Shalom as Spiritual Leader for several years. Over the course of the decade in which he served in Halifax, Ari frequently addressed its interfaith organizations and guest lectured at local universities.  His contributions included regular commentary in newspapers and other media, including features in the Canadian Jewish News (CJN). Ari served as Associate Chaplain of Dalhousie University and was elected to the Executive Committee of the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).

Contact Rabbi Isenberg-Grzeda at 914-948-2800 ext.133 or by email.

CANTOR EMERITUS JACOB BEN-ZION MENDELSON

Mendelson.Cantor_0220_TouchedUp500pxCantor Mendelson has been at Temple Israel Center for over 25 years, enriching our community with his beautiful Hazzanut. He teaches many of the B'nai Mitzvah, gives courses in adult education, teaches in the middle school and is always available for private tutoring to any congregant who would like to learn to read Torah or lead the congregation in prayer.

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, he witnessed the dwindling days of the Golden Age of Hazzanut. Now, as both an international performer and one of the leading cantorial masters of today, he is passing on his art to a new generation of cantors. For over 25 years he has taught at the Hebrew Union College School of Sacred Music, and the H.L. Miller Cantorial School at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Cantor Mendelson has the unique honor of receiving honorary doctorates from the Jewish Theological Seminary and Hebrew Union College.

Cantor Mendelson is a graduate of the Hebrew Union College School of Sacred Music and the American Opera Center at the Juilliard School. He is the composer of Weekday Mincha and Maariv and Improvisations on Shabbat Shacharit published by the Cantors Assembly, the organization in which he served as president in 2003 and 2004.

Recently he created the role of Shabtai Tz'vi in the world premiere of Richard Teitelbaum's Scenes From Tz'vi held at both Bard College and La Biennale in Venice. After a Carnegie Hall concert, the New York Times raved: "Mendelson's performance was magical....emotionally unguarded." In January 2006, he sang the memorial prayer at the United Nations General Assembly, on the occasion of the first international day to Commemorate Victims of the Holocaust.

Cantor Mendelson's discography includes Cantorial Recitatives by Legendary Masters, The Birthday of the World Part I and Part II, A Taste of Eternity, narrated by Leonard Nimoy, Jewish Music and More, recorded with his wife, cantor Fredda Mendelson, Hazonos, called "...jazz album of the year" by Wired Magazine, recorded with Frank London and his son, Daniel Mendelson, and most recently, Further definitions of the Days of Awe, with the Afro Semitic Experience, also featuring his son Daniel.

Contact Cantor Mendelson at 914-948-2800 ext. 125 or by email.

RITUAL DIRECTOR RABBI DINA SHARGEL

Shargel.Rabbi dina_8779_TouchedUp500pxAfter several years as a member of Temple Israel Center, Rabbi Dina Shargel joined the clergy as Ritual Director in 2004. She holds a B. A. in music from Brandeis University, and an M. A. and rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Before becoming a rabbi, she taught music and a variety of Jewish subjects to people of all ages for more than 20 years.

Rabbi Shargel oversees the Torah services for weekdays, Shabbatot, and festivals. She serves as coordinator for the Bar and Bat Mitzvah program – training students in individual lessons and working closely with our talented Bar/Bat Mitzvah tutors. Rabbi Shargel also teaches in the Havurot Torah. She has been working with families and the professional staff toward making Temple Israel Center's Bar and Bat Mitzvah program ever more integrated and comprehensive.

She also makes regular appearances in the Nursery School with her guitar.

Rabbi Shargel offers adult education courses throughout the year. One of her goals as Ritual Director is to help worshipers of diverse backgrounds feel welcome and included at our synagogue services, and to empower them with knowledge and skills. Please contact her if you are interested in leading services at the daily minyan, or in doing a Torah, Haftarah or Megillah reading.

Contact Rabbi Shargel at 914-948-2800 ext. 121 or by email.

rabbinic intern louis polisson

Louis Polisson is a fourth-year rabbinical student, Gladstein Fellow, and M.A. candidate in Jewish Thought at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS). He was born and raised in the New Haven, Connecticut, area. Louis fell in love with Jewish life as a child in synagogue and has been involved in Jewish life ever since.

Louis earned a B.A. cum laude from Brandeis University with High Honors in Classical Studies and with minors in Music and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. While at Brandeis, Louis served as the Musical Director of Manginah, Brandeis' premier co-ed Jewish a cappella group, was on the board of the Brandeis Reform Chavurah, and was the pianist for the musical improv comedy troupe, False Advertising.

Louis is a musician and a composer, and has worked as a songleader and teacher of Jewish music at a wide range of Jewish organizations, camps, and synagogues across the Northeast, including the URJ Eisner Camp, BIMA/Genesis at Brandeis University, and B'nai Jeshurun in New York City. Louis has studied klezmer with Alicia Svigals, Greg Wall, Aaron Alexander, and David Chevan. While studying in Israel, Louis served as Gladstein Fellow and Rabbinic Intern of Kehilat Eshel Avraham in Be'er Sheva, under the mentorship of Rabbi Mauricio Balter.

Louis is also a student and an aspiring teacher of Jewish meditation and Jewish spiritual practices, and has been on several Jewish meditation retreats in the U.S. and Israel. Louis recently completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at JTS under the supervision of Rabbi Mychal Springer, during which he served as the Rabbinic Intern at Selfhelp Nazi Victim Services of Manhattan, visiting and offering spiritual care to Holocaust survivors in their homes.

Contact Rabbinic Intern Polisson at 914-948-2800 or by email.