Interim Rabbi (as of July 2019)
Rabbi Samuel Barth (Reb Sami) believes deeply in synagogue communities as the vibrant center of our People, where Jewish souls, hearts and minds are connected; connected with each other and with God. In recent years he has developed a passion and expertise in the field of Transitional Rabbinic Leadership, having served as the Interim Rabbi for Temple Beth Tzedek in Buffalo, NY, as well as in diverse synagogues from Brooklyn, to Austin, to Miami.
The approach he brings to teaching, to Divrei Torah is rooted in both modern scholarship and a spiritual engagement with classical texts. Rabbi Barth is known for a calm presence, a deep commitment to pastoral presence whenever needed, and for creative programs that engage the core shul community, yet appeal also to those not yet involved.
Reb Sami is a sabra, born in Haifa, Israel then educated in the UK with undergraduate studies in mathematical physics, and advanced studies in philosophy and comparative religion. Following Ordination from Leo Baeck College in London, with a dissertation on “Kavvanah in Halakhic Sources,” he pursued graduate study in Talmud and Liturgy. He has served as a dean and professor of liturgy at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and also at the pluralistic Academy for Jewish Religion (AJR), teaching and mentoring a new generation of rabbis and cantors.
Students of all ages and levels have appreciated his patience and wide-ranging approach to teaching, making extensive use of case studies, traditional havrutta learning and modern technology. Engagement with the wider community, and especially with interfaith work, has been a core part of the vision that Reb Sami brings to the rabbinate.
While on the faculty at JTS Rabbi Barth held a Jim Joseph Faculty Fellowship in Technology and Learning, developing expertise in the use of diverse electronic media to support Jewish study. His regular emails that engage with Torah and Prayer, often relate to media “clips” from synagogue services, concerts and conferences around the world, and reference writings and live lectures from leading teachers, whether in New York, London or Jerusalem.
Rabbi Barth and his wife Karen, a corporate management consultant, are the parents of Yishai (making plans for graduate school) and Miriam (completing Freshman Year in College); they love travel and music, theater and martial arts (Karen is working on her 2nd black belt). R’ Sami enjoys mountain hiking, white water kayaking (even in winter) and Scottish music – inherited from his mother who was born in Edinburgh. They share a passionate concern about access and inclusion for all, informed by their experiences with Yishai’s cerebral palsy, and by Yishai’s academic and personal immersion in concepts of human abilities.