Rabbi Michelle Denker Pearlman became the new rabbi of Beth Chaim Reform Congregation in Malvern July 1. She takes over from Rabbi Aileen Hollander, who has served as the congregation’s rabbi since 2002. Rabbi Aileen will continue to serve the congregation as the director of religious education.
Rabbi Pearlman will lead her first Shabbat service at Beth Chaim Reform Congregation on Friday, Aug. 1 at 7:30 p.m. Immediately following the service, the congregation will celebrate with an ice cream social. The community is invited to come meet Rabbi Pearlman during her introduction to the congregation.
Rabbi Pearlman comes to Beth Chaim with a wide variety of experience that will offer the congregation new opportunities for growth, social action, advanced learning and community involvement for congregants and their families.
“My life and rabbinate have been transformed by the incredible relationships built through a love of Torah and community,” Pearlman said. “I feel so blessed to come to Beth Chaim, a warm, welcoming, creative congregation of leaders who cherish Judaism and one another.
“I am a rabbi who prioritizes people over program with a keen focus on listening and relationship building. As rabbi in this beautiful community I will focus on helping individuals connect to God, to Judaism and to one another. I am honored to become a part of the Beth Chaim family.”
Rabbi Pearlman received her rabbinic ordination in 2005 from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. Prior to ordination, Rabbi Pearlman was an avid performer on the operatic and musical theater stage. She holds a Masters of Music in voice from the University of Illinois (1994) and a Bachelor of Musical Arts (1992) from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich. Rabbi Pearlman is an active speaker, teacher and writer. She recently published “Interfaith Families are People Not Numbers,” Op-Ed, New Jersey Jewish News, Nov. 5, 2013, and was a contributing author to the book “Inside Intermarriage” by Jim Keen, URJ Press, 2006. Both resources can be found on the internet.
Most recently, Rabbi Pearlman served as director of community engagement at the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County (N.J.), creating relationships and networks to engage members of the Jewish community with an emphasis on the unaffiliated. Rabbi Pearlman developed multiple new outreach initiatives for the community including a Hurricane Sandy home rebuilding effort. From 2010 to 2013, Rabbi Pearlman led the historic 350-household Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls, N.J.
Seeking to create a more connected community, she focused on strengthening community engagement and expanding adult learning, and introducing teen travel opportunities. Rabbi Pearlman also served as Associate Rabbi of Temple Shalom of Newton, Mass., and worked for the Union for Reform Judaism. While at the URJ she focused on youth, membership and issues facing interfaith families in congregational life.
More activities to welcome Rabbi Pearlman are scheduled in the upcoming months, including a chocolate tasting event and lecture titled “Jews on the Chocolate Trail,” featuring Rabbi Debbie Printz, author of “On the Chocolate Trail: A Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao” on Sept. 14 and an installation Shabbat on Nov. 21. For updated information about these events, please visit www.bethchaim.net.