Clergy & Staff
Rabbi Ron Fish
Rabbi Ron Fish came to Temple Israel and Sharon on July 1, 2015.
The son of a Conservative rabbi, Rabbi Fish grew up in various communities across the United States, but his summer "home" for more than a decade was Camp Ramah in New England where he was a camper, counselor, unit head (rosh edah), and teacher. He also served as the Head of Education at Camp Ramah in Canada.
Graduating cum laude from Brandeis University in 1991, Rabbi Fish served as the gabbai (leader) of the egalitarian minyan and a member of the Hillel Board and Student Senate. Following his sophomore year, he participated in a mission to the former Soviet Union in which he and a group of students offered support to the Jewish communities of Estonia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
Rabbi Fish was ordained in 1996 from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. His third year of study was spent in Israel at the Beit Midrash of the Conservative Movement, now known as the Schecter Institute for Judaic Studies. He received awards in Jewish Theology for his work with Dr. Neil Gillman and in Israeli society for his work at Neve Hana, a home for Israeli children from dysfunctional families.
Preparation for the rabbinate also included work in Washington, D.C. with the Religious Action Center, where he lobbied the US government on issues of importance to the Jewish community.
During the course of his studies, Rabbi Fish was a member of two Jewish a cappella groups, Pizmon and Neranena. Twice during these years he was privileged to travel to Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Austria with Pizmon, where the group performed and reached out to the newly reborn Jewish communities of Eastern Europe.
Rabbi Fish has served as the president of the Norwalk Clergy Association and was the first president of the Rabbinic Council of Norwalk and Westport. He was the driving force behind a number of crucial communal projects such as Taste of Torah, an evening of learning involving the entire community. Rabbi Fish also headed the organization of a communal basic Judaism course involving rabbinic educators from the entire religious spectrum.
In 2006 Rabbi Fish successfully organized a synagogue trip to Israel during the second Lebanon War. The trip was the subject of a documentary on American Jews' experiences in encountering Israel called, Eyes Wide Open.
Currently, Rabbi Fish is working on a doctorate in Jewish Thought at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He can be found rooting for the Red Sox, biking, and playing basketball in the backyard whenever possible. Rabbi Fish is married to Leah Bieler, his wife and partner. Leah is a Jewish educator and scholar who brings her voice, humor, wisdom, and hospitality to Temple Israel and Sharon. She graduated from Northwestern University and has a Masters in Talmud from the Jewish Theological Seminary.
They are the parents of two daughters and two sons, aged 15 to 7. Get to know the whole family! They open their yard to the entire community for a warm, relaxed Shabbat afternoon experience, including Shabbat afternoon basketball. They hope their enjoyment of Shabbat, and Jewish life as a whole, will continue to be as contagious in their new home of Sharon as it was in Norwalk, CT.
On December 6, 2015, the Temple Israel community celebrated the installation of Ron Fish as their new Senior Rabbi. The video of that joyous day can be viewed here.
Rabbi Rachel Silverman
Rabbi Rachel Silverman joined the Temple Israel community in July of 2016. She very much looks forward to getting to know you and welcoming you to the Temple Israel community! Please do reach out to find a time to meet for coffee, to share a Shabbat meal, or to share your hopes for the Temple Israel community.
Having grown up in Easton, moving to Sharon is a return to her roots. Rabbi Silverman graduated from Brandeis University with an undergraduate degree in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies (NEJS), from the Davidson School with a Masters in Jewish Education, and was ordained from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2010.
For the past five years, Rabbi Silverman has served Congregation Kehillath Israel in Brookline as their Rabbi for Congregational Learning. In that capacity, she was part of the founding team that built KICKS, an award winning Friday evening prayer experience, and transformed the educational program.
Rabbi Silverman lives in Sharon with her husband Josh, their children Anna and Danny, and their yellow lab named Abby
Joshua Blumenthal, Executive Director
Josh's return to Temple Israel as Executive Director marks a full circle: He attended Junior Congregation and was an active participant and leader in USY and a teacher’s aide in our religious school.
He and his siblings each became bar/bat mitzvah here; his parents have been involved in the synagogue for more than four decades, Mollyann having taught in the religious school for some 30 years; and both of his maternal grandparents were past presidents of Temple Israel: Saul Wersted z”l in the 1960s and Evelyne Wersted z”l, the first woman to serve as president of our congregation.
Josh majored in Judaic Studies at Brandeis and has a master’s degree in educational administration.
Professionally, Josh has worked in nonprofit, sports & entertainment, and corporate community relations. He worked in Hillel’s national office as an internal consultant steering campus Hillels toward institutional excellence and was Executive Director of Hillel for the state of North Carolina. Most recently, Josh served as Executive Director of Congregation Mishkan Tefila during its transition of clergy and from Newton to Brookline, and he regularly leads Birthright trips to Israel.
Leisa Glass, Director of Early Childhood Education
Leisa comes to Temple Israel with a wealth of experience and glowing recommendations. Her experience, credentials and early childhood development expertise are a great match to foster Hertz Nursery School as a warm, nurturing, innovative and exceptional institution for our youngest learners.
Leisa graduated from UMass Boston with a degree in education. When her children were young, she ran her own home daycare for eight years. She then became a preschool teacher, teaching two-year-olds and running the enrichment program at the Striar Hebrew Academy in Sharon for ten years. For the past three years, she was the three year-old lead teacher at the Maimonides ECC. During the past twelve summers, she worked at Camp Grossman, where she ran the Archery program.
Leisa lives in Sharon with her husband Mark and her children—David, just graduating Brandeis; and daughter Shari, just graduating Maimonides School. In her free time she likes to draw, cook, and spend time with her family. She looks forward to meeting you and becoming part of the Temple Israel and Hertz community.
As an experienced educator, Leisa is passionate about helping children discover their world through creative play, experiential learning, and cooperative work. “It is important to me to ignite a love of learning and help each child develop a positive sense of self. In my work, I strive to teach the whole child, challenging and inspiring them intellectually, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. I am looking forward to working in a preschool in which I can collaborate with and learn from others while offering my extensive experience and unique skills.”
Rabbi Mordechai Rackover, Religious School Principal
Mordechai grew up in a secular but deeply involved Jewish household in Montreal, Canada. He primarily dedicated his time to Federation, Hillel, and Israel-related volunteerism during high school and into his college years, he was deeply drawn to learn more about the traditional Judaism that surrounded him. While at McGill Mordechai decided to take time off to study at a Yeshiva in Israel. A six month stay turned into three years of study.
Mordechai returned to Montreal, completed his BA with Honours at McGill and then returned to the Israel to once again take up Yeshiva studies.
With two years of studies to ordination under his belt Mordechai and Nechama Lea decided to move to Yerushalayim where he was accepted into the Pardes Educators Program and into the Masters of Education at Hebrew University.
In 2004 Rabbi Rackover was ordained by Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, a Dayan (a Judge in Religious Courts) in Yerushalayim. Subsequent to his ordination and completion of the Pardes Educators Program he and his family moved to Potomac, Maryland where he began as a teacher of Jewish text and tradition at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School and youth director of Beth Sholom Congregation and Talmud Torah. Mordechai is a gifted educator and his teaching at Beth Sholom vaulted him into a position as assistant rabbi.
After four years in Maryland, where his classes were known to regularly draw 50 - 75 people on Shabbat morning, Rabbi Rackover was searching for a role that allowed him more access to work in Jewish pluralism. He was hired on as associate university chaplain for the Jewish community of Brown University and rabbi of the Brown RISD Hillel Foundation.
Five years of very fulfilling work in Providence allowed Rabbi Rackover to discover new aspects of his thought and develop skills critical for management in large institutions. Ultimately the Rackovers left Providence to find the best educational environments for their children who now number four.
Sharon, Mass was a natural choice for the family. They have a large network of friends in the community and enjoy the more 'countrified' environment that Sharon affords.
While in Sharon Rabbi Rackover has worked as a teacher in the Binah School, Striar Hebrew Academy, Gann and other organizations in the greater Boston area. He has also worked remotely as a grant-writer, curriculum designer and consultant to a Jewish publishing house.
In 2016 Rabbi Rackover published Luach Torat Israel, the first liturgical calendar for diaspora orthodox communities that is Zionist.
Mordechai is a gifted cook and occasionally does small catering gigs, he loves photography and reads about one-hundred books a year. An avid sports fan he roots for the Montreal Canadiens (never miss a game) and the Washington Nationals (formerly the Montreal Expos).
Mordechai shares his life with Nechama Lea, a native of the Czech Republic, she works as an ultrasound technologist at Beth Israel Deaconess. Together they have four children.
Please feel free to reach out for a meeting or a conversation.
Rabbinic Intern Allison Poirier
Allison Poirier is thrilled to return to Temple Israel for a second year as rabbinic intern. She is originally from Medfield, attended List College and Barnard in NYC, and then lived in Jackson Mississippi for two years before returning to Massachusetts. She would love to talk with you about her Talmud major and/or her time travelling through the South. Allison is a fifth-year student at Hebrew College in Newton. As part of the TI community, she teaches 5th grade and junior congregation, advises the USY chapter, and leads our Young Professionals group, the Chevra.
Outside of school, Allison loves to hike, read, and cheer for Boston sports teams.
Marla Forman, Office Manager
Marla joined Temple Israel following twelve years in the production and customer service areas of a women's sportswear manufacturer. Marla loves her work here, using her customer service skills as she interacts with congregants and visitors, and in bringing the new synagogue software to life.
Carlo Pazienza, Bookkeeper
Carlo joins Temple Israel from Congregation Mishkan Tefila, where he served a bookkeeper for a decade. He brings a broad financial background. Carlo's passions are family-- he is a proud husband, father, and grandfather-- and golf.
Ana Marusich-Zanor, Administrative Assistant
Ana joined Temple Israel after many years in retail. In addition to her work, she's also a self-employed artist, specialising in portraits of people's pets, and is passionate about dog rescue. She lives in Stoughton with her husband of 25 years, four dogs, two cats, and a snake.
Adrea Gerber, Religious School Administrative Assistant
Adrea joins TI after moving to Sharon from Oakland, CA. She has experience in office management after working both medical and legal practices. Most recently, she has been a lay leader in her synagogue and children’s day schools. Adrea and her husband have three children, and her husband claims she bakes the best challah.
Hazzan Steven W. Dress, Cantor Emeritus
Hazzan Steven W. Dress was attracted to religious life and hazzanut as a protégé of Hazzan Charles Lew, z"l, in Medford, MA. Commissioned as hazzan by the Cantors Assembly, Cantor Dress was awarded a Bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, MA and a Master's Degree in Judaic Studies from Hebrew College, Brookline, MA. He also studied Judaica, Music, and Pastoral Counseling at a variety of universities and ulpanim in New England and Israel, including the Fuchsberg Center's Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem. Cantor Dress studied voice while expanding musical repertoire for nearly 18 years under the guidance of Hazzan Gregor Shelkan, z"l, Newton, MA.
Cantor Dress began serving Temple Israel, Sharon, MA on August 1, 1991. For nine years he previously served Temple Am David, Warwick, RI. He is widely regarded for retaining teenagers in the synagogue setting. Temple Israel's numerous Torah Reading Corps, and its Adult and Youth Choral groups developed under Cantor Dress' direction. Cantor Dress prepared approximately 1,700 b'nai mitzvah during his career.
A lyrical tenor, Hazzan Dress is a baal-nusah in the Eastern European style. His CD recordings and educational cantata video production, contributed to United Synagogue Solomon Schechter Cultural Arts Awards presented to Temple Israel. He is a recipient of the Outstanding Mentor Award by the American Association of University Women, and the Kehillah Schechter Academy Partner Award. Cantor Dress was honored by Temple Israel upon completing his first decade of service, and in April, 2012 he was jointly honored by the synagogue and his New England Region Cantors Assembly colleagues marking his 30th year in the cantorate.
Cantor Dress organized and participated in many New England Region Cantors Assembly concerts. He has served multiple three-year terms on the Cantors Assembly National Executive Council, served as New England's Cantors Assembly Chairman (Conservative Movement), and is a Past President of the New England Board of Cantors (Commissioned Conservative, Orthodox, Reform Cantors). He has lectured on aspects of Jewish liturgy and its potential influence on human behaviors and relationships. During winter 2008, he was the guest hazzan-scholar in residence during a sabbatical leave at the American Hebrew Academy in Greensboro, NC. He has also volunteered annually as Cantor-in-Residence at NERUSY's Summer Encampment since 1988. A former activist for Soviet Jewry, Cantor Dress advocates for the chronically mentally and physically disabled. Cantor Dress served on the international Board of Directors of the Masorti Foundation as its National Chairman of Israel's B'nai Mitzvah preparatory program that serves profoundly special needs children. He voluntarily teaches Torah cantillation at the Kehillah Schechter Academy. Cantor and Myrna Dress periodically lead inspiring trips to Israel celebrating life cycle events and advancing worthy causes. Cantor Dress organized and facilitated nusah practicum sessions lecturing at USCJ and USY National Conventions. The USCJ Review, 2006 published excerpts of Cantor Dress' Convention paper entitled: "K-Date: the Embrace of Keva and Kavannah in the Conservative Synagogue". Cantor Dress is an American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) activist, and is a member of the National Association of Jewish Chaplains and The Phoenix Society.
After more than 25 years at Temple Israel, Cantor Steven and Myrna Dress are transitioning to life in Boca Raton, FL. Their daughter, Melissa, a diabetes nurse educator, lives in San Diego. Their son, Jonathan, works as an architect at Shive Hattery, an architectural firm, while living with his loving wife, Ilana, a graduate student, in Chicago, and their son Isaac ("Yitzi") Meir.
Celebrate Cantor Dress, April 1-2 2017
During the weekend of April 1-2, Temple Israel honored Cantor Steven and Myrna Dress, which included special Shabbat services and a festive kiddush and, on Sunday, April 2nd, a musical program and a celebratory brunch.