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Our Rabbi

Rabbi Eric L. Abbott believes that Judaism can change lives and better the world, and he feels incredibly honored and excited to lead BJC and the Bethesda Jewish community toward that shared vision.

 

Rabbi Abbott grew up at Temple Sinai in Cranston, RI and later graduated summa cum laude from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a B.A. in Judaic Studies. In college, he led Reform services at UMass Hillel, marched in the band, worked as a Resident Assistant, performed community service through Alpha Phi Omega, and studied abroad in Israel. Between college and seminary, Rabbi Abbott worked at his home synagogue and at a rock climbing gym.

 

Rabbi Abbott earned his rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in 2018, as well as an MA in Hebrew Literature in 2017 and an MA in Religious Education in 2016. During his studies at HUC-JIR, he participated in a variety of work and learning opportunities, including running the adventure course at URJ Eisner Camp; offering pastoral care as a chaplain intern at Memorial Sloan Kettering; fighting for social justice with T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights; discussing Judaism and geopolitics as an AIPAC Leffell Israel Fellow; and co-leading the HUC-JIR Soup Kitchen. He served as a rabbinical student intern at Temple Beth Am in Monessen, PA, Temple Isaiah in Lexington, MA, and Larchmont Temple in Larchmont, NY, in addition to working as an education intern at Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York, NY. At HUC-JIR, he earned awards in homiletics, Bible, human relations, and academic excellence.

 

After ordination, Rabbi Abbott served as the Senior Jewish Educator at Johns Hopkins Hillel in Baltimore, Maryland. At Hopkins Hillel, Rabbi Abbott tripled the size of the Reform Jewish community, introduced the Jewish Learning Fellowship to campus, helped students found a Jews of Color affinity group, expanded the Jewish LGBTQ+ group, advised the J Street U chapter, and mentored student interns and other leaders. He taught many classes, including "Forbidden Judaism," "#MeToo and Torah," and "[Netflix's] Unorthodox Unraveled." He also increased the amount of community service and social justice programming at Hillel, including developing the Tikkun Olam Fellowship for Service, Leadership, & Justice.

 

In his spare time, Rabbi Abbott enjoys playing board games, reading, running, watching Marvel movies, and spending time with his inspirational wife, Rabbi Eliana Fischel, his son, Ezra, his daughter, Rebecca, and their dog, Kiwi.

 

Rabbi Abbott would love to get to know you! Please reach out at RabbiAbbott@bethesdajewish.org or find a time on his calendar.

 

 

Our Rabbi Emeritus

Rabbi Emeritus Elhanan “Sunny” Schnitzer is one of the few spiritual leaders in the country to hold a dual ordination as both Rabbi and Hazzan (cantor). Ordained as Rabbi by the Alliance for Jewish Renewal (ALEPH) and Rabbi Zalman Schachter Shalomi in 2010 and as Hazzan in 1997 by the Academy for Jewish Religion, Rabbi Schnitzer has led BJC since 2001. His first service with the congregation was on September 12, 2001, a memorial service for the victims of the attacks of September 11. 

 

BJC has long believed that a congregation must be a healing presence in the world far beyond its walls. Rabbi Schnitzer is the Executive Director of the Cuba America Jewish Mission and is a leader in rebuilding the Jewish community on the island. With his leadership, over 80 members of the congregation have journeyed with him to Cuba since 2003. Rabbi Sunny is also active in interfaith work and is active with the Jewish Islamic Dialogue Society of Montgomery County, and is a member of Rabbis for Human Rights. 

 

He also is the first rabbi to worship with, and address, the Presbyterian Church USA General Assembly and is deeply engaged in continual dialogue with PCUSA in its approach to Israel-Palestinian relations. Rabbi Schnitzer has served congregations in Virginia, Long Island, and Baltimore, MD, mixing both traditional and contemporary forms of worship. 

 

He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Judaic Studies from Baltimore Hebrew University, where he received awards for scholarship and biblical text study and was class valedictorian. Rabbi Sunny has also served in the chaplaincy program at Sloan Memorial Cancer Center in New York City.

 

To reach Rabbi Sunny, please email rabbisunny@bethesdajewish.org

 

Tue, August 16 2022 19 Av 5782