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Congregation Beth Shalom welcomes interim rabbi

Posted: September 25, 2009 9:38 p.m.
Updated: September 26, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Rabbi Howard Siegel will serve as the interim clergy for Congregation Beth Shalom for the next year.

Rabbi Howard Siegel is ready to renew a sense of culture and community at Congregation Beth Shalom.

Following a vigorous selection process, Congregation Beth Shalom of the Santa Clarita Valley welcomes Siegel, who will serve as the conservative temple's interim clergy for the next year.

"My job is really to help the congregation rediscover its culture and its meaning," Siegel said Thursday, "and to put it on a footing where it can begin to grow and prosper."

Siegel officially began his role as the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Shalom on Sept. 1. He and his wife, Ellen, will be relocating to the Santa Clarita Valley from Houston.

During this next month of transition, Siegel will lead the congregation's High Holy Days services this fall, ending Oct. 10 with Simchat Torah, a celebration marking the conclusion of the annual cycle of the reading of the Hebrew Bible.

"Beth Shalom has a wonderful base of support and a really warm community feeling and it's starting to resurface again," Siegel said.

"My job is really to help them feel better about themselves as members of (Beth Shalom) and, in doing so, it will become more attractive for people who are looking for a congregation to affiliate with in the Santa Clarita region."

Rabbi Siegel is a congregational rabbi with experience in education, outreach and community building, according to a Beth Shalom news release.

"We are so fortunate to be able to have such an experienced and knowledgeable rabbi," said Arlene Gold, president of the Congregation's Board of Trustees. "CBS will certainly reap the enormous benefits of having such a skillful leader."

Siegel's motivation to become a rabbi came from his involvement in Jewish camps. After time spent as a public school teacher, he went to the University of Judaism.

He moved on to the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, where he earned his Master of Arts in Judaica in 1978 and later his Doctor of Divinity (honoris) in 2005.

Siegel, also a widely published author, is the founding director of the Jewish Information Center of Houston, an outreach program to unaffiliated Jews and non-Jews seeking a better knowledge of Judaism.

Among other accomplishments, he is also the founding director of the Solomon Schechter Day School of St. Louis.


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