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Temple Beth El of Boca Raton Welcomes Rabbi Laila Haas to the Clergy Team

Rabbi Laila Haas, Temple Beth El of Boca Raton

Boca Raton, FL (June 27, 2024) Temple Beth El of Boca Raton is pleased to announce the addition of Rabbi Laila Haas as the fourth rabbi in their clergy team of seven, including two cantors and a cantorial soloist.

Senior Rabbi Dan Levin says, “We are overjoyed to welcome Rabbi Haas into our Temple Beth El family.  In addition to her experience and talent as an educator and spiritual leader, she brings a depth and richness to her teaching that is inspiring.  She exudes such warmth and wisdom, and we look forward to many years of learning and growing together.”

Born and raised in Miami Beach, Florida, Rabbi Haas, the daughter of Cantor Emeritus Steven Haas of Temple Beth Sholom in Miami Beach, spent her formative years attending the Lehrman Community Day School, and at the temple which she considered her second home.

“Growing up at Temple Beth Sholom I was inspired by the light of Torah, living a life engaged in mitzvot and in partnership with the Divine. The synagogue helped to foster not only my love of Judaism, but of community, and of course a deep love of Israel,” says Rabbi Haas.  She continues, “In addition to my father, Rabbi Gary Glickstein was a pivotal force in my becoming a rabbi. To this day, I can actually remember some of his sermons I heard, as a child, while sitting in services.”

She shares that her family and the rabbi’s family took many summer trips to Israel over the years with members of the congregation. Her first visit there was at age nine. The sacred experience of traveling to Israel with families from the congregation created lifelong bonds and amazing memories.

“Israel for me, is where my spiritual soul was born. Standing in that holy space on those ancient stones that connect us so deeply to our ancestors and the seamless blend of the modern and ancient coming together is just awe-inspiring. The energy of the land and her people fill my spiritual cup,” she says.

Growing up, her parents encouraged her and her siblings to attend simchas, funerals and shivas, in order to experience not only programmatically what it is to live Jewishly, but to understand those life cycle moments; and how being with the families was so important. She says, “One of the first twinklings of inspiration for me to want to pursue becoming a rabbi was when I went to a shiva home with my dad and my rabbi. It was observing the interactions between them and the family that experienced the loss that left such an impression. I felt it was a privilege to be invited in to people’s lives.”

Rabbi Haas feels that the synagogue is a place where we have the opportunity for meaningful Jewish experiences, through worship, learning, and building relationships. “It’s a space where we can grow Jewishly, nurture our soul, but also where we can learn to see the world through a Jewish lens,” she adds.

Her educational pursuits took her from the University of Miami for her undergraduate degree in Judaic studies, to attending rabbinical school for five years at Hebrew Union College; first year in Jerusalem and the remainder in Cincinnati, along with concurrently obtaining a Masters of Educational Administration from Xavier University in Cincinnati. She says her experience studying in Israel was “like heaven for me…I could see the walls of the old city from my balcony. It was magical being there and seeing Torah and Jewish wisdom come to life.

Upon completion of her studies it was time for placement, which was a matching process at the time. A good friend of hers, Rabbi Aaron Miller encouraged her to consider Temple Emanu-El in Birmingham, Alabama, where his father, Rabbi Jonathan Miller was the senior rabbi. She looked into the synagogue and realized this was the place she wanted to go, so she took his advice and applied. She was selected, and spent seven rewarding years there under the mentorship of her dear friend, Rabbi Jonathan Miller.

Her journey brought her back to South Florida where she would marry her husband, Will Evans, and have their young son, Asher. She accepted the position of Director of Adult Learning and Growth for the Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education in Miami, where for the past five years she left her mark as an influential Jewish educator.

“In the back of my mind, I always knew I wanted to return to the pulpit, and to a synagogue that was bashert…a place that authentically reflected Jewish values, was warm, inspiring and vibrant. I found that the moment I met with Rabbi Dan Levin and the rest of the incredible clergy team and search committee. I feel so blessed to serve as the new rabbi. People are so welcoming and my family and I feel the Beth El love. I am thrilled to be here …it already feels like home,” she said.

Rabbi Levin adds, “Rabbi Haas fit perfectly with everything we hoped to find in the rabbi we wanted to add to our team.

In addition to all the qualities we sought in a rabbinic leader – a great teacher, a comforting pastor, a wise leader – we wanted our rabbi to focus their energies on adult engagement and enrichment, someone who would inspire our congregation to invest more deeply in learning and spiritual growth.

With Rabbi Haas’ experience leading adult learning initiatives with CAJE in Miami, and her depth of experience as an educator in her work in Birmingham, we feel incredibly blessed that Rabbi Haas agreed to bring her passion and talent to our congregation and community.”

To learn more about Temple Beth El of Boca Raton, and meet Rabbi Haas and all of the clergy, call 561-391-8900 or visit tbeboca.org to obtain Shabbat Service times and other programming information, along with upcoming High Holy Day and membership information.

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BIO: RABBI LAILA HAAS

 A talented teacher and an innovative leader, Rabbi Haas brings to Temple Beth El a passion for Israel, Jewish life and Jewish adult education, along with a broad range of rabbinic experience. Ordained by the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in 2011, Rabbi Haas spent the first seven years of her career as the Associate Rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in Birmingham, Alabama where she was mentored by Senior Rabbi Jonathan Miller. During her tenure there, Rabbi Haas built a robust adult-education program, established an innovative process for engaging new members, and leveraged her creativity in Temple programming and strategic planning.  In addition, she founded “The Discovery School” – Temple Emanu-El’s preschool which grew to more than 90 students in just its second year. She also helped to develop and implement an innovative curriculum for their religious school. Since 2018, Rabbi Haas served as Director of Adult Learning and Growth for the Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education in Miami. There she created a new strategic vision for adult learning and growth for the entire Miami Jewish community, helping to grow attendance by more than 20 percent each year. She led her agency’s response to the COVID pandemic, quickly pivoting to provide learning and engagement opportunities online, providing a vital lifeline to hundreds of people suffering from loneliness. A native of Miami Beach, Rabbi Haas graduated from the University of Miami, and also earned a Masters of Educational Administration from Xavier University while completing her rabbinical education at Hebrew Union College in both Jerusalem and Cincinnati. She presently lives in Boca Raton with her husband Will and son, Asher.

About Temple Beth El of Boca Raton

Founded in 1967, Temple Beth El of Boca Raton is one of the nation’s leading Reform congregations and enjoys two campuses. The Schaefer Family Campus located in east Boca Raton at 333 SW 4th Avenue is home to the Rabbi Merle E. Singer Sanctuary and multiple learning, worship, and social spaces. The Beth El Mausoleum which serves the needs of the congregation and the Jewish community of South Florida is located on the grounds of the Schaefer Family Campus.  The Beck Family Campus, located in west Boca Raton at 9800 Yamato Road, just east of 441 is home to the Beth El Early Learning Center, a preschool that offers full-day childcare for babies as young as 2 months, and the Beth El Religious School, a supplemental Jewish education program for students K-12.

Temple Beth El provides multiple opportunities for its members of all ages and the surrounding community to learn, connect, and live a modern Jewish life. For more information visit tbeboca.org or call 561-381-8900.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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