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In keeping with the recommended guidelines for social gatherings during this period of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in keeping with the Jewish view that gives primacy to preserving life, CBI has replaced all in-person gatherings at the synagogue building with virtual gatherings. Meetings with one of the rabbis or administrative staff - where all parties are masked - may be made by appointment.

Clergy

Throughout its history, Congregation Beth Israel has been blessed with outstanding spiritual leaders. Today, CBI's distinguished clergy, consummate professional staff, and engaged lay leadership mirrors the diversity and strength of this vibrant congregation.

Our Clergy

Rabbi Thomas (Tom) A. Gutherz, Senior Rabbi
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Rabbi Tom Gutherz began his role as Senior Rabbi in 2016 after serving as CBI’s Rabbi Educator for 11 years. He was ordained in 1993 by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and has over 35 years of experience in formal and informal Jewish education, including 12 years as Rabbi of Agudath Sholom Congregation in Lynchburg, Virginia.  

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Rabbi Tom grew up in Rochester, New York. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in History at the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1977. Before assuming the position of Rabbi of Agudath Sholom Congregation, he was a member of Kibbutz Gezer in Israel, working as a primary school teacher and a dairy farmer.  Rabbi Gutherz also served as an adjunct professor in the Department of Religion at Lynchburg College and is a former member of the NCCJ Board, the Lynchburg Neighborhood Development Foundation, the Holocaust Education Foundation, and the Marriage Alliance of Central Virginia. He is a frequent participant in interfaith and diversity programs with NCCJ’s Interfaith Dialogue Group and Metrotown, as well as the Martin Luther King Center for Human Rights.

Rabbi Gutherz is committed to providing quality Jewish programming, education, personal enrichment, and social activities for congregants of all ages, backgrounds, and worship styles.

 

Rabbi Jessica (Jess) Kerman, Assistant Rabbi / Rabbi Educator
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Rabbi Jessica Kerman began her position as the Assistant Rabbi/Rabbi Educator in the summer of 2020, shortly after being ordained by Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). Prior to HUC-JIR, Rabbi Jess earned a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from York University. 

Rabbi Jess grew up in Brampton, Ontario, was active in NFTY, and taught in Har Tikvah Congregation’s religious school for several years before heading off to South Korea to teach English as a second language. Before beginning her rabbinical studies, Jessica interned with Beit Tefilah Israeli in Tel Aviv and Livnot U’Lehibanot in Tzfat and studied at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. 

While a student at HUC-JIR, Rabbi Jess has had the privilege of serving several communities, including teaching at Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, providing pastoral care at The New Jewish Home in Westchester, being a rabbinic presence at North Fork Reform synagogue on Long Island, interning with the Central Conference of American Rabbis and Am Kolel in Montgomery County, MD. 

Rabbi Jess is passionate about finding ways to infuse Judaism into all facets of life. She especially enjoys text study, and feels it connects her in conversation with other Jews throughout space and time. She loves getting crafty and is always finding ways to combine art and Judaism. 



Rabbi Daniel Alexander, Rabbi Emeritus
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The Board of Directors of CBI awarded Rabbi Daniel Alexander the title of Rabbi Emeritus following his retirement after his 28 years of rabbinic service, from 1988 -2016. Before coming to CBI, Rabbi Alexander had been the Executive Director of the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation at the University of Virginia from 1979 - 1988. He has also been a part-time Lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at UVA and frequently has taught for the Chaplaincy Services of the UVA Health System and for gatherings at churches, schools, and civic organizations in the region.

Rabbi Alexander received his rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1979 and was awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree by HUC-JIR in 2004. In 2002, he received a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Wesley Theological Seminary. He completed a two-year training in Jewish Spiritual Direction in 2007 under the auspices of the Morei Derekh Program and completed the Rabbinic Leadership Program of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality in 2011. He engaged in several programs of training and practice with the Mussar Institute and has regularly attended the summer Rabbinic Torah Seminar of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.

Since retiring from full-time rabbinic service, Rabbi Alexander has continued to provide back-up coverage for Rabbi Gutherz, give sermons, present Divrei Torah, lead worship, teach classes, and oversee lifecycle rituals to supplement the work of CBI’s active rabbis. Rabbi Alexander expects to facilitate a CBI group in Awareness for Action, a Mussar program with a planned March 2021 launch schedule. A Wise Aging Group for Men is forthcoming.

Retirement from active rabbinic service has opened up new avenues for volunteer engagement. Besides continuing to teach church and other groups, Rabbi Alexander’s recent volunteer efforts have included: assisting in an ESL class; serving on the Board of Directors of the Haven [a local agency addressing the needs of the homeless and the marginally housed]; serving as a representative on the Sponsoring Committee, Care for Creation, an environmental justice initiative of the parent organization of the Interfaith Movement of People Acting in Congregations Together [IMPACT]; serving as a Court Appointed Special Advocate [CASA] for children placed into foster care. He is the Vice -president of Programming for the Greater Carolinas Association of Rabbis and has begun a one-on-one Spiritual Direction practice.

Rabbi Alexander has also undertaken several writing projects during retirement. His review of two books of theology, The Tragedy Test by Richard Agler and The Mystery of Suffering and the Meaning of God by Anson Laytner, was published in the Fall/Winter 2021 edition of The Journal of Reform Judaism. The Mussar Torah Commentary, a book named as a finalist for a 2020 National Jewish book award, includes a chapter he authored. Still underway, Rabbi Alexander continues to edit the Yom Kippur presentations on the Book of Jonah delivered by congregants at CBI every year since 1988. A published anthology is the goal.

Since their retirement, Rabbi Alexander and his wife have been blessed by the birth of two grandchildren and by the marriage of their son. These blessings and the continued blessing of living among friends in Charlottesville fuel their ongoing gratitude.

Tue, April 20 2021 8 Iyar 5781