Temple Israel of Lehighton, 194 Bankway Street, Lehighton, PA 18235, Phone: 610-379-9591, E-mail: contact@templeisraeloflehighton


Rabbi Rachel

Temple Israel of Lehighton welcomes Rabbi Marjorie Berman!

Rabbi Marjorie Berman is a native of Madison, Wisconsin, and attended Earlham College, a Quaker institution, where she majored in Religion. She received her rabbinical degree in 2003 from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) just outside of Philadelphia. She has a background in Hillel, congregational work, chaplaincy, spiritual direction, Jewish camps, and couples' and family counseling.

In 1995, Rabbi Marjorie completed a Clinical Pastoral Education Residency where she served as a chaplain at the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania, ministering to patients with HIV, cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Before beginning Rabbinical School, Rabbi Berman also spent a year of study in Israel, where she participated in activities promoting peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

While attending the RRC in Wyncote, PA, Rabbi Marjorie also studied family and couples' counseling at the Penn Council for Relationships, and served as a student rabbi in Florida, Missouri, and the Virgin Islands. Throughout her career, Rabbi Marjorie has pursued a fervent interest in interfaith dialogue.

Rabbi Marjorie served as the Coordinator of Spiritual Development at Philadelphia University until 2011. Currently, Rabbi Marjorie teaches at Society Hill Synagogue in Philadelphia and serves as a Spiritual Director at the Reconstructionist Seminary and at her home in Clarks Summit. She also serves as a teacher and guide to several groups on women and aging.

Rabbi Marjorie brings a wide variety of interests to her work as a rabbi. Counseling, interfaith work, and bringing life to Jewish texts, history, and ritual are among her passions. She is also deeply committed to finding ways for Jews and others to foster a relationship between nature and spirituality. She is a dynamic teacher and speaker and enjoys incorporating artistic and meditative elements into her teaching and worship-leading. She has recently completed a two-year program in the Leadership of Sacred Chant, and she enjoys sharing what she has learned about the power of song. Most of all, she appreciates the opportunity to help people find meaning in their lives through spirituality, culture, ethics, social action, and community.

After living in Philadelphia for more than twenty years, she moved to Northeastern PA seven years ago. She is married to Rabbi Daniel Swartz, who is the spiritual leader of Temple Hesed in Scranton and she has an 18 year old daughter Alana. She enjoys the wonderful natural beauty of this part of the state, and the slower pace of life. Both she and her husband love to hike, garden, canoe and have become avid "halfers." (They've walked in half-marathons from Vermont to the Virgin Islands!) She is delighted by the committed and diverse community that gathers in the "synagogue on the hill" and looks forward to welcoming whoever is interested in learning more about Judaism and sharing in this very special community!

Rabbi Rayzel Raphael

Rabbi Emerita:

Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael has served Temple Israel of Lehighton, Pennsylvania. Rabbi Rayzel originally hails from Knoxville, Tennessee. She brings with her southern charm and an open-hearted hospitality to welcome newcomers to Temple Israel.

Calling herself an "unorthodox rabbi", Rabbi Rayzel stays on the creative edge through music, art and performance. Her services are never dull - but rather joyous and filled with music. Rabbi Rayzel is a visionary artist and an award winning singer/ songwriter - with five recordings to her credit. If you have been alienated or turned off in any way, come meet our Rabbi to see if she can help heal your connection to our tradition . . . she makes it fun.

She loves teaching about "The Mysteries": spirituality, angels, the soul, dreams, and kabbalah. Her spiritual path has been to serve the Shechinah, the Divine feminine, as a way of bringing healing to herself, her people and the planet. Convinced the angels are working in her life, Reb Rayzel is grateful to be lead to Temple Israel. If you are at all a "seeker", this is the rabbi for you.
Reb Rayzel has sojourned to various places to learn and grow. She first went to the Midwest where she received a BA from Indiana University in Religious Studies. Her ambition then took her to Brandeis University to complete a Masters in Contemporary Jewish Studies. The lure of adventure lead her to live in another country - and she became the Director of the Jewish Student Federation of York University, Toronto, Canada. The call of a deeper journey compelled her to live and study in Israel - at Machon Pardes and the Melton Center for Jewish Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem - where she then made the decision to come to Philadelphia and go to the Reconstructionist Rabbinical School. She graduated in 1997.

Adept at creating rituals and ceremonies, today Rabbi Rayzel also has a private practice of counseling and performing life cycle rituals such as baby namings and funerals, Jewish and interfaith weddings. She also serves as a chaplain for senior citizens. In her spare time, she gardens, paints silk tallitot - and if she's lucky - gets a good night sleep!

In her words: "My intention is to create an open, accepting, loving Jewish community at Temple Israel, filled with joy and spiritual nourishment for all members and their friends/family, in order to be a beacon of sacred light to the area and the world."

Her life partner is Dr. Simcha Raphael, a psychotherapist, teacher and specialist in Jewish Views of the Afterlife (simcharaphael.com). They and have two children: Yigdal and Hallel - and a cute Pomeranian, Sherlock.

For more information of all her creative projects see her website www.shechinah.com and http://www.interfaithjewishweddings.com

Rabbi Melody Davis

Rabbi Emerita:

Rabbi Melody Davis – or 'Reb Melody' as she prefers to be called - is a 'local' girl, (depending on whose definition of 'local' one follows.) She has lived in the Lehigh Valley for 23 years. Home is a 260 year old stone farmhouse nestled by the Little Lehigh in Emmaus. She lives there with her husband Edwin - who refers to himself as her "Hubbitzen" - and their three children: Spencer, Jonathon and Annelise.

She jokingly refers to her previous careers as 'past lives.' She worked sporadically as an actor, singer and director, then returned to college. While managing her husband's photography studio, Reb Melody taught traditional and contemporary holiday music in Hebrew, English and Yiddish to grades Pre-K through 6. She has also instructed children from 4th through 6th grade in a three day a week after-school Talmud Torah program.

In her quest to share 'yiddishkeit' - Jewish life, customs and practices, Reb Melody is also the rabbi of Temple Covenant of Peace in Easton, Pa. She also serves as the Jewish Chaplain at the Country Meadows Retirement Community in Allentown.

Reb Melody has a deep and abiding love for Judaism. She seeks out comfortable and joyful ways for people to come closer to God. She believes that each individual has a different way to approach The Eternal. Some of the modalities that she hopes to share are drama, inter-linear Torah chanting, music, poetry, dance, literature, chanting and meditation.

Reb Melody is not only a teacher, but the perennial student. She enjoys learning from people of all ages. Her door, mind and heart are open to you.


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