Please see my Resume and Vision Statement below. If you are a member of a congregational search committee, you likely have seen this already and there is nothing new here. I have deleted my address and home phone number from the on-line version for security reasons. If you would like to get in touch with me, please feel free to e-mail me or call my cell phone.
Rabbi Daniel Plotkin
Rabbi, B’nai El Congregation, Frontenac, MO, 2004-present
B’nai El Congregation is a 200 family congregation in suburban St. Louis founded in 1852 and is a founding member of the Union of Reform Judaism. I led the congregation through a period of liturgical and educational transition with the goal of maintaining the congregation’s ability to serve its aging demographic while sustaining congregational services for younger members as well.
Beit Tefilah: Worship
Working with the Ritual Committee and Music Director I led the congregation through a process of liturgical innovation and experimentation for both Shabbat and holidays resulting in increased participation in services:
Beit Sefer: Education
In cooperation with and in support of the Religious School Director and the Board of Education I facilitated the expansion of educational opportunities for our religious school and for the adults of the congregation.
Beit Kenesset: Community Building
Demonstrated leadership and initiative in partnership with the lay leadership of the congregation with the goal of improving and strengthening the variety of programming in the congregation and increasing the visibility of the Congregation in the larger Jewish community.
Rabbi, Temple Beth Tikvah, Clear Lake, TX, 2002-2004
During my tenure Temple Beth Tikvah was a 75 family, Reform Congregation founded in 1993 to serve the Clear Lake/NASA area on the southeast side of the Houston Metropolitan area. The Congregation’s membership was primarily young, inter-faith families looking for a synagogue dedicated to educating their children and providing a spiritual home for their entire family.
Student Rabbi, Congregation Beth Israel, Colleyville, TX, 2001-2002
Unit Head, Goldman Union Camp Institute, Zionsville, IN, 2000-2001
Responsible for supervising, evaluating and mentoring a staff of approximately 16 college age camp counselorsCreated and led informal educational programs and additional programming for the unit of 75 campers.
Student Rabbi, Temple Beth El, Tyler, TX, 1999-2000
Student Rabbi, Congregation B’nai Israel, Columbus, MS, 1998-1999
Community Leadership Experience
Panelist, Jewish Values On-line: Website that seeks to answer user submitted question on Jewish ethics from the viewpoint of Rabbis representing the three major Jewish movements, 2010-present
Officer of the Board, Faith Aloud: A national religious based educational and counseling organization focusing on issues of reproductive rights and gender identity, 2009-present
Voting Member of CCAR Committee on Liturgy and Practices, took an active role in developing Mishkan Tefilah for the House of Mourning. 2006-present
Faculty Member: URJ Goldman Union Camp Institute and URJ Greene Family Camp, 2002-present
President, Association of Reform Rabbis of Greater St. Louis, 2008-2010
Chair: St. Louis Rabbinic Association (SLRA) Adult Education Committee, 2006-2008
SLRA representative to the Robert P. Jacobs Jewish Fund for Human Needs – This group grants funds to local social service agencies on behalf of the St. Louis Jewish Community. 2005-2009, 2010-present
Management Issues in Nonprofit Organizations, University of Missouri, St. Louis: a two part series covering legal and financial issues faced by nonprofit organizations. 2009
STAR-PEER Cohort 3: The STAR-PEER program is for recently ordained rabbis. Over the course of two retreats, regular on-line learning, monthly rabbinic coaching calls and annual alumni retreats once the program is completed, participants explore their role as a rabbi in terms of what it means to be the spiritual leader of a community and a leader in the congregational organization. 2005-2006, alumni events and on-line opportunities ongoing
New York University School of Continuing & Professional Studies:
Accelerated Certificate in Fundraising, 2010
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati, Jerusalem:
Rabbinic Ordination, 2002
ACPE Clinical-Pastoral certification, 1 unit, 2001
Rabbinic Thesis: “History of The Yavneh Day School of Cincinnati,” Referee: Dr. Gary Zola
Rabbi Frederick C. Schwartz Prize: For contributions to URJ Camping and NFTY, 2001, 2002
University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI:
Bachelor of Arts, 1997: History, Hebrew and Semitic Studies
Giving Meaning to our Days: Re-imagining Unetaneh Tokef, a Survey of Selected Sermons, CCAR Journal: Spring, 2009, reprinted in Machzor, Challenge and Change, CCAR press, 2010.
Birthdate: July 5, 1974 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Spouse: Rachel Leavey Plotkin of Baltimore, Maryland
Children, Ari (born January 2007) and Joshua (born September 2009)
References Available upon request
Rabbi Daniel Plotkin
Rabbinic Vision Statement
Every year I come home from the Purim carnival the same way: with bit of whipped cream in my hair and exhausted from all the fun. Between the pie throwing, the performance of the Purim play, creating an amazing Purim carnival and all of the other craziness surrounding the holiday, Purim is a high point of the year in my Rabbinate. This is largely because I do truly enjoy Purim as a fun holiday, and I also want all of those in attendance: children, parents and guests, to see me immersed in the fun of the holiday so that they can follow my lead.
Although every day is not as crazy as Purim, each day I have the opportunity, on behalf of the synagogue, to engage members of the congregation wherever they may be in their personal Jewish journey. As Rabbi of a synagogue I attempt to make use of each opportunity to demonstrate the full richness of Jewish life, to make the synagogue a place where Judaism doesn’t merely survive, but it is revived for its members. Ultimately, as Rabbi, this is achieved in large part through my making close, personal connections with its members.
The ability that I have to make these personal connections with members, and their ability to make personal connections with me and with the congregation, occurs in many ways. Most of these opportunities, however, will arise when I am facilitating the congregation’s tasks in one of the three traditional roles of the congregation: Beit Tefilah, a house of prayer; Beit Midrash, a house of study; and Beit Kenesset, a house of community. When I and the leadership of the congregation work in partnership to create opportunities in each of these areas, that partnership positions the synagogue to be at the forefront of the Jewish community for generations to come because of the connections we will create together.
I experience the synagogue as a house of prayer, Beit Tefilah, when I hear the voices of religious school children sing the Shema loud and proud. I see it in the eyes of those who seek comfort and solace in the haunting melody of the Kol Nidre. At a Shabbat service I feel the community come together in a prayer for peace. At another service I hear the emotion in the voice of someone who calls out the name of a loved one in need of healing. When a congregant tells me that he or she enjoyed a service I know that I have helped that individual to connect with God and to connect with the community.
In the synagogue as a house of study, Beit Midrash, people of all different ages and backgrounds come together to learn, to study, to explore the richness of Jewish life. A member of the congregation calls me desiring to learn, and I create a course on Jewish liturgy so that we can learn together. Children come on Sunday mornings and leave having learned something important about who they are and what it means to be Jewish. Adults take time out of their schedules to explore their heritage, history and language. Jews and non-Jews alike join to learn the basics of the Jewish religion. Those in search of comfort, knowledge, fellowship and more, study Torah a verse at a time on Shabbat Mornings.
The synagogue as a house of gathering, Beit Kenesset attracts an overflow crowd for Shabbat Evening dinners. I join my own grief over a hurricane ravaged area with others who feel the same way by rallying together and filling a truck with supplies to help those who have lost everything. The youth get together not because the activity is something so special, but because they like to spend time with one another. Saddened over the death of a beloved member of the community, the synagogue comes together in mourning and remembrance. Tears of joy flow for a mother and grandmother, both converts to Judaism, as I bestow a Hebrew name on the newest member of their family. At the bedside of a member in the hospital I give a feeling of hope: that although the present is difficult, a better future lies ahead.
In thinking about a synangoue with these three core values, a house of study, prayer and community, as the rabbi I cannot lose sight of the fact that the synagogue is also a home for its members. Therefore, it is important that the rabbi of a synagogue respect the customs, traditions and choices of those who have called the synagogue home, whether for several generations or for only a matter of months. A rabbi can only guide a congregation to new levels of excellence by building upon the richness of the congregation’s foundation.
With this sense of home in mind I work in partnership with engaged and empowered lay leaders along with a staff of creative, dedicated professionals, so that as a congregational team we will create excellent programming, an inviting atmosphere and a genuine sense of belonging for all. In this way the congregation is a place that welcomes and honors Jewish families of all types and engages the members in Jewish traditions in a way that challenges them and gives them a sense of fulfillment, but always leaves them feeling at home in their community.
As a rabbi I facilitate the connection between a synagogue and its members, enabling our community to have a welcoming environment where people share their lives, experience the joys and pains of others, find friends, and experience spiritual renewal. In these ways I, as rabbi, work as a part of the community to create a synagogue in which the members are continually strengthening their ties with God, with the Jewish people and with each other.