Rabbi Craig H. Axler
Shalom! It's my pleasure to welcome you to Temple Isaiah
(virtually at least)
I came to serve as rabbi of Temple Isaiah in July of 2012 and, together with my family, have found here a congregation that I can honestly say would be the synagogue I would choose for my family and myself. What we've discovered here at Temple Isaiah is a place that is friendly and warm; where the values and traditions of Judaism come together with an open and progressive vision for the future! Ours is a community that spans the generations (MiDor La'Dor); where joyful song resonates off the walls of our sanctuary; where hands are joined together in the sacred task of repairing our shattered world (Tikkun Olam); where we come together to study, wrestle and draw inspiration from the sacred texts of our people (Limmud).
A few things about me that might be of interest:
I'm a native of the Philly area, and served as a rabbi at Congregation Beth Or for 9 years before I arrived at Temple Isaiah.
I was ordained at the New York campus of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in 2003, having been awarded an M.A. in Hebrew Letters in 2002.
Before I entered rabbinical school, I studied and worked for a number of years in the field of Music Therapy, completing my B.S. in Music Therapy at SUNY – New Paltz. My love of music also connects with my love of Judaism. I was a songleader at the Union for Reform Judaism's Kutz Camp and Camp Harlam (where I have the great pleasure of serving on faculty every summer!)
Among my other joys are cooking and baking, reading, enjoying the great outdoors and (above all else) spending time with my family. My wife Pamela is also a Music Therapist, and we are the (tired) parents of Lev, Eliana and Noam. Additionally, my parents, Barry and Leslie, have recently moved to the area and become members of Temple Isaiah. We live in Clarksville and are very happy to be making our life in Howard County!
If you're intrigued by any of the above, you'll find a little more here in the Vision Statement I prepared when I interviewed to become the rabbi of Temple Isaiah.
Below, you will also find links to some of my sermons and other writing.
Yom Kippur 5774 - On the Afterlife
Yom Kippur 5774 - Make Us into Tzedakah and Chesed
Rosh Hashanah 5774 - The Mearning of the Shofar and Why it Should be Stinky
Rosh Hashanah 5774 - What is really Truth
a Sermon on Marriage Equality in Maryland
Yom Kippur 5773 - The Old Shall Be Made New
Yom Kippur 5773 - I Always Cry at Horas
Rosh Hashanah 5773 - Against Perfection Towards Compassion
Rosh Hashanah 5773 - Clean Slates for the New Year
B'rit Hachanat B'nai Mitzvah
Becca Droller has been leading Temple Isaiah in song since 2010. Born and raised in Alexandria, VA, Becca attended the Madeira School before she headed off to Vassar College where she earned a B.A. in Religion. After working in San Francisco for a few non-profits, Becca returned to graduate school. She earned a Masters of Social Work from Columbia University with a focus on families and children. Becca spent three years working as a social worker and school-based mentoring coordinator at Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters before she took the leap to answer her true calling - becoming a cantor! She attended Hebrew College in Boston for two years and earned a Certificate of Jewish Sacred Music. Becca was thrilled to be hired as the cantorial soloist at Temple Isaiah and to move back home to the Washington, DC area. Becca met and married her husband Aaron in DC and they now have two delightful boys, Hershel and Milo! She loves leading Temple Isaiah congregants in prayer and singing her heart out. She also loves working with children and spent many years teaching early childhood music.
Rabbi Mark J. Panoff grew up in the Boston area and received his BA from Hamilton College in 1967. He was ordained as a Reform rabbi from the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati (1973). During rabbinical school he studied in Jerusalem at the Hebrew University and HUC.
Rabbi Panoff has a MS in Marriage and Family Counseling, and has done graduate work at Yale University, NYU and The Baltimore Hebrew University. In 1998 he received his honorary Doctor of Divinity from HUC.
Arriving at Temple Isaiah in 1986, Rabbi Panoff led this congregation until his retirement when he became the congregation’s Rabbi Emeritus in 2012. Prior to leading Temple Isaiah, he was a rabbi at Central Synagogue (NYC), Congregation B’nai Abraham (Hagerstown, MD) and Congregation Mishkan Israel (Hamden, CT).
Rabbi Panoff, together with his beloved wife Renee (of blessed memory), left an indelible mark on this congregation with over 26 years of leadership and vision. He now resides in Boca Raton, FL.