Rabbi Laura M. Rappaport
Rabbi Rappaport is thrilled to be able to creatively share her passion for Jewish growth, learning and values with the members of Temple Beth Orr. She has a background as a pulpit rabbi, a Director of Congregational Learning, a board-certified hospital chaplain, a director of non-profits, an adjunct college faculty member, an educator for all ages in many settings, and the mother of two.
Rabbi Rappaport grew up in rural Northwest New Jersey and received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She received her M.A.H.L. and Rabbinic Ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (Jerusalem and Cincinnati campuses). She has also completed Masters’ level courses in Bio-ethics from Rush University and University of Washington and Doctoral level courses in Jewish Studies from Spertus College in Chicago.
Rabbi Rappaport’s diverse career has been characterized by the embracing of new opportunities and experiences at every stage; she encourages others to take this same approach on their own unique paths. She has lived in nearly every region of the country – from serving pulpits and running a sexual assault crisis center in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, to serving adjunct rabbinic functions in Omaha to working in pulpits, hospital chaplaincy and non-profit settings around the Pacific Northwest to running the family education program at Congregation Beth El in Bethesda, Maryland to directing the educational program at her childhood synagogue, Temple Shalom in Succasunna, New Jersey. Her most recent position before her move to Florida was as Associate Rabbi and Educator of Temple B'nai Shalom in Fairfax Station, VA.
Much of her adult life has been spent in Boise, Idaho, where she focused on serving small congregations around the Pacific Northwest including Sun Valley, Idaho; Great Falls, Montana; Bainbridge Island, Washington; Bend, Oregon in addition to working with her home congregation in Boise. While in Idaho, she was founding director of the Idaho Children’s Trust Fund, a statewide child abuse prevention foundation. She taught Introduction to Judaism classes at the College of Idaho. For ten years she worked as a Board certified chaplain at both of Boise’s acute care hospitals and the physical rehabilitation facility.
She is immensely proud of her two daughters, Tanya and Rosa. Tanya is a Registered Dietician, working for a non-profit in Seattle that advocates for a socially-equitable and ecologically-sound food system. Rosa is an Environmental Resource Engineer, currently living in Tel Aviv. Rabbi Rappaport enjoys running/working out, indie/alternative music, listening to The Moth and This American Life, hiking, occasionally playing the hammered dulcimer, and discovering cultural/educational/artistic experiences that seem cool, quirky and interesting. You can follow her dog Roxie on Instagram @roxiepuppiegirl
You can email Rabbi Rappaport at [email protected]
Rabbi Emeritus Mark Wm. Gross
Rabbi Gross recently became Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Beth Orr, after serving for 29 years as Senior Rabbi. Rabbi Gross has used his position on the pulpit of Temple Beth Orr to create an inclusive atmosphere. His goals have always been “to make members of the community feel listened to, cared about, connected to their tradition,” he says. Coming from a family of eighteen generations of rabbis enables him to “find deep meaning in the staggering privilege of bringing members of our people to encounters with their heritage of faith.” His encounters at Temple Beth Orr have been broad: from the monthly Come-as-You-Are Shabbat Experience; to the Religious School’s emphasis on Confirmation as a primary goal; to contemporary alternative services for Shabbat, Rosh haShanah and Yom Kippur. These initiatives by Rabbi Gross have helped to create a strong community where so many feel like a true, meaningful part of the congregation’s extended family.
Cantorial Soloist Andrew David Susman
Andy is delighted to be sharing his passion for Jewish music, liturgy, and education with the TBO community. His synthesis of music, social work and education was evident early on. In 1987, with the guidance and encouragement of Cantor Nancy Hausman, he became a fledgling soloist & congregational song leader at TBO. A year later, a long tenure as a summer camp song leader took root. For decades he’s worked as a Sunday and Hebrew School teacher. And with a degree in Social Work and a teaching certificate, he taught for over a decade in a dropout-prevention program in Miami-Dade County. His spiritual journey has encompassed the broad spectrum of Jewish movements providing for a diverse perspective on our faith.
Andy has attended CAJE conferences, was a member of the JNF Performing Artists’ Troupe, and twice participated in Hava Nashira – the Reform Movement’s Song Leader Training Institute. In 2008, Andy established Hearts, Minds & Music, Inc. as a vehicle for communicating the “Light and Joy of Judaism & Spirituality through prayer, music, imagery, and text.” He has released two full-length cover albums of contemporary Jewish music: A Prayer Journey (2010) and Generations (2015).
Andy is the proud father of twin sons, Evan and Bryan, who bring him much naches. Evan, recently ordained in Los Angeles, has returned to South Florida to serve as Assistant Rabbi at B’nai Torah in Boca Raton. He will marry his fiancée, Emily, in June 2023. Bryan resides in Jerusalem with his wife Tamar and their daughter Aviv. He is the Director of Youth Organizing – Israel for the URJ and is working towards his PhD in Education.
In addition to his passion for Judaism and music, Andy enjoys participating in song circles, listening to a wide range of NPR programming, watching movies, and taking early morning and evening walks with his partner and soul mate, Mary. He is grateful to be alive and embraces the philosophy of Henry David Thoreau: "Only that day dawns to which we are awake."
You can email Andy at [email protected]