Rabbi Cory Weiss
Before coming to Temple Har Zion in 2006, Rabbi Cory Weiss served as Rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek in Chester, Connecticut from 1999 to 2005, contributing to the growth of the community and the building of a new synagogue. Prior to Beth Shalom, he was the Associate Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford, Connecticut. Rabbi Weiss received his ordination at the New York campus of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1993. He earned his M.A. in Hebrew Literature at HUC-JIR’s Jerusalem and Los Angeles campuses. He received his Bachelor of Music degree with distinction in 1986 from the University of Michigan, where he studied French Horn, composition, and Judaic Studies.
Rabbi Weiss is a member of the Reform Rabbis of Greater Toronto, the Toronto Board of Rabbis, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the Greater Toronto Interfaith Curling Club. He currently serves on the National Board of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the Jewish National Fund of Toronto. Rabbi Weiss has also served on the faculty of URJ Camps George, Eisner and Crane Lake. Rabbi Weiss lives in Thornhill with his wife Karen, who is a professional Jewish Educator, and their sons Michael and Jacob.
Rabbi Benjie Gruber
Temple Har Zion is so pleased to welcome Rabbi Benjie Gruber as Sabbatical Rabbi, while Rabbi Cory Weiss is on Sabbatical leave for eight months. Rabbi Gruber arrived in Toronto from Israel late October with his wife, Tovi and his three children Yair, Ella and Anna.
Rabbi Gruber was raised in Beersheva, after his family made aliya from Chicago in 1980. He attended the Netiv Meir Yeshiva in Jerusalem and later combined military service in the Israeli Defense Forces with advanced college level courses at the Hesder Yeshiva in Yerucham, of which he was a founding member.
Under the auspices of the Jewish Agency, Benjie taught Jewish Studies in the former Soviet Union. Thereafter he spent two years in Portland, Oregon, teaching Judaism to all ages and denominations. It was in Portland that Benjie’s spirit was captured by liberal Judaism. After volunteering with his wife Tovi in Malawi, Benjie understood that the path to combine Jewish content and his belief in improving the world would be studying for the rabbinate. While studying at the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem, Benjie earned an M.A. in Jewish Philosophy from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. During his rabbinical studies, Benjie was active in Congregations Mevakshe Derekh and Mevasseret Tzion, RHR, IRAC, Mekhinah in Yaffo and the Nativ conversion program. Benjie feels obligated to all of these institutions, and continues to work and take an active part in many of them.
In 2008 in the course of his rabbinic studies Benjie was awarded the Rabbi Moshe Zemer Prize for a responsum he wrote.
With his ordination to the rabbinate, Benjie becomes the eighth generation of rabbis of various kinds in his family. His paternal grandfather was a Reform rabbi; his father is a Conservative rabbi, while his two brothers are rabbis belonging to other movements in contemporary Judaism and his two sisters live Judaism each in her own way and according to her own beliefs.
In April 2012, Benjie published, with his late and revered teacher Rabbi Dr. Jack J. Cohen, a book entitled Jacob’s ladder – Jewish reflections. Benjie has been living on Kibbutz Yahel for over four years and has been serving as Rabbi of the Kibbutz for five years. Since his move from Jerusalem, Benjie has begun teaching, guiding and spreading the word of liberal Judaism all across the Arava Region, North and South of Yahel, including Eilat.
Cantorial Soloist Tara Abrams
As B’nai Mitzvah Co-ordinator, Tara oversees the program and tutors most of the students herself. In addition, Tara enjoys teaching “Introduction to Torah Cantillation” classes to grade 6 students in our Beit Ivrit ( Hebrew School ). Tara liaises with Rabbi Weiss and Susan Sermer, Director of Education, ensuring that children and parents alike have a positive experience in preparation for becoming Bar or Bat Mitzvah.
Tara teaches Torah and Haftarah cantillation to both the Adult B’nai Mitzvah classes and other adults in the congregation who want to learn this Jewish life skill. She provides support on an ongoing basis to congregants who chant Torah and Haftarah at services.
An Honours graduate of the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto and an A.R.C.T. graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Tara first encountered Jewish music as a student at Temple Har Zion’s Religious school. Her love of Jewish music was nurtured while attending URJ’s Goldman Union Camp Institute where there was a tremendous focus on singing. She is a true product of the Reform movement, and specifically Har Zion, from Consecration through to Confirmation and beyond. Tara has served as a Faculty member of our URJ’s Camp George. She is a member of the Guild of Temple Musicians and the Toronto Council of Hazzanim.
Tara works closely with Rabbi Weiss and Eleanor Rice, our Music Director, to make Temple Har Zion’s worship services spiritual, inclusive, musically-infused and participatory through the singing of songs that cover the spectrum from traditional to contemporary.
Perhaps that explains the eclectic group of CDs in Tara’s car right now: James Taylor’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2, The Fantastiks (musical), Barbra Streisand’s What Matters Most, Jennifer Warnes’ Famous Blue Raincoat, Amy Sky’s Phenomenal Woman, Samuel Barber’s Greatest Hits, Craig Taubman’s Holy Ground and THZ’s Hak’hel et Ha’am…a labour of love!
Tara is married to David and has two children, Emily and Ryan.
Rabbi Emeritus Michael Stroh
Rabbi Stroh received his B.A. from Queen’s College, Summa Cum Laude. He was ordained at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC – JIR) at which he earned an M.A. with honours. In l991, he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity from HUC – JIR. He has been an instructor at Queen’s College and taught Jewish Thought at the School of Education and philosophy at the School of Sacred Music of HUC – JIR. He has been an instructor in Jewish Theology at the University of Waterloo.
Rabbi Stroh teaches and lectures regularly at Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist synagogues in the Toronto area. He lectures frequently at interfaith programs at the University of Toronto, York University and secondary schools. He was a member of the Theology faculty of the University of St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto. Rabbi Stroh spent his last sabbatical in New York and Israel. He taught Covenant Theology with Professor Eugene Borowitz at HUC – JIR and did research on Franz Rosenzweig.
Rabbi Stroh is a Past President of Arza Canada, (Reform Zionist Organization) and a Past Chairperson of Arzenu: International Federation of Reform and Progressive Religious Zionists. He was a member of the Zionist General Council (Va’ad Hapoel) of the World Zionist Organization and the Assembly of the Jewish Agency. He is a past president of the Toronto Board of Rabbis and was a member of the Commission on Sustaining Rabbinic Education of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion/Central Conference of American Rabbis. Rabbi Stroh was a chair of the Reform Round Table, a group of rabbis who discuss the content and direction of Reform Judaism.
He is married to retired publicist Celia Stroh. They have two children and four grandchildren.
Among Rabbi Stroh’s publications are the following:
- Marshall McLuhan and the Shape of the Reform Jewish Future
- Tradition for Reform Judaism
- A New Look at Franz Rosenzweig’s Speech Thinking
Central Conference of American Rabbis Journal
- The Authority of the Tradition for the Reform Rabbi
Yearbook of the Central Conference of American Rabbis,Vol. XC, Part Two
- A Reform Perspective
- Authority, Autonomy, and Authenticity: A Personal Search
Jewish Spiritual Journeys
Lawrence A. Hoffman and Arnold J. Wolf, Behrman House Inc.
- Mending The World And The Evil Inclination: The Human Role In Redemption
Duties of the Soul
Niles Goldstein and Peter S. Knobel, URJ Press
- Martyrdom: Suicide for the Sake of Heaven
The Freehof Institute of Progressive Halakhah