By Agrippina Fadel
Rabbis Rami Pavolotzky and Daniela Szuster will share a job —- and bimah — at Tamarac’s Temple Beth Torah Sha’aray Tzedek starting August 1.
Jewish theological seminaries and rabbinical associations don’t have an exact record of how many married rabbis share a synagogue but say the practice is rare.
“We had not even thought about a married couple,” said Elise Leonard, TBTST’s rabbinical search committee co-chair. “We were looking forward to finding someone to lead us into the next chapter after the retirement of Rabbi Michael Gold, who had served the temple for 32 years. We wanted to find someone younger who could reach our younger congregants.”
TBTST President Alan Dubrow said the arrival of the new rabbis is a change the congregation embraces as it moves forward into the future.
Pavolotzky and Szuster are a married rabbinic couple who share one job, household, and childcare tasks, allowing them to nurture congregants and their families.
The couple met in the rabbinical school Seminario Rabbinico Latinoamericano in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and in 2002 were married in the same building where they studied and received their degrees.
“It is wonderful to find someone to share your love and passion,” Rabbi Szuster said.
“It was natural,” Rabbi Pavolotzky added. “We spent so much time together. I wasn’t looking for someone who was a rabbi. It just happened.”
The pair later lived in Israel for two years to finish their rabbinical studies and obtain their master’s degrees in Jewish Studies. They led a temple in Costa Rica before relocating to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, as rabbis for its 80-family congregation Temple Beth-El where they served until July 2022.
For Szuster and Pavolotzky, sharing a pulpit is a necessity. Like many Conservative Jews, the rabbis do not drive on the Sabbath or Jewish holidays. They soon realized that the odds of securing rabbinical posts at two congregations within walking distance of one home would be close to impossible.
Temple Beth Torah Sha’aray Tzedek is located at 5700 NW 94 Avenue. It has an Early Childhood Center, Hebrew School, and Youth Group.
- Agrippina Fadel grew up in Siberia and received her master's in journalism from Tyumen State University. Agrippina is also a writer and editor at Draftsy.net. She has been a US resident for over ten years and speaks English and Russian.