Temple Israel's clergy enjoys a proud legacy of involvement in the Memphis community, taking leadership roles in interfaith activities and on local agency boards. They are involved regionally and nationally in the work of the Union for Reform Judaism, as well as in their respective professional organizations, the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the American Conference of Cantors, making Temple Israel recognized throughout the country.
Senior Rabbi Micah D. Greenstein, D.D.
Rabbi Micah Greenstein has served Temple Israel of Memphis for 26 years, 16 as its Senior Rabbi. Named among the city’s most significant leaders, Rabbi Greenstein was recognized as the first "Memphian of the Year" by Memphis Magazine in 2013. In 2012 and again in 2013, he was named as one of "America's Top 50 Rabbis" by Newsweek/The Daily Beast. Rabbi Greenstein has received several esteemed awards, including the Memphis City Council's "Humanitarian Award" in 2011; the Memphis Theological Seminary’s "President’s Humanitarian Award" in 2012; and the "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 'Be The Dream' Legacy Award" in 2016. Rabbi Greenstein served as a two-time President of the Memphis Ministers Association and as a member of the Executive Committee of the National Civil Rights Museum. He continues to serve on the Museum’s Board of Directors. He is past-President of the Southwest Association of Reform Rabbis, covering six states and served on the National Board of the NAACP. In 2005, Rabbi Greenstein became the first rabbi to preach in the Washington National Cathedral on a Major State Day, Tennessee Day. He is a supporter, visitor, and speaker at the Harpswell Foundation in Cambodia, which has empowered a new generation of women leaders for the developing world and offers hope for the impoverished and most promising female youth in Memphis. A Cornell University National Scholar and Kennedy Fellow at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, Rabbi Greenstein earned his undergraduate degree in Economics in 1984 and Masters in Public Administration in 1986. Following a year of study in Israel, he completed his Masters in Hebrew Letters at the Los Angeles campus of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in 1989 and was ordained rabbi in 1991 at HUC-JIR in Cincinnati. Rabbi Greenstein also received his Doctor of Divinity degree from HUC-JIR in 2016. Rabbi Greenstein and his wife, Sheril, have three children. Stay connected to Rabbi Micah through:
Associate Rabbi Katie M. Bauman
Rabbi Katie Bauman was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion on June 6, 2009 and began with Temple in July of 2009. Rabbi Bauman is a graduate of Washington University, where she majored in Jewish, Islamic, and Near Eastern Studies. She also received a Master of Education Administration with a Specialization in Jewish Education from Xavier University. Rabbi Bauman served pulpits in Natchez, Mississippi, Marion, Ohio, and served as cantorial soloist at Northwestern University Hillel and the Rockdale Temple in Cincinnati. She worked at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, D.C., the Anti-Defamation League, the District of Columbia Jewish Community Center, and Washington Hebrew Congregation, and was Temple's Artist and Educator in Residence in 2002-2003. Rabbi Bauman and her husband, Adam Eckstein, have three children.
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Assistant Rabbi Bess Wohlner
Following her rabbinic ordination at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s Los Angeles campus, Rabbi Bess Wohlner launched her rabbinate at Temple Israel in July of 2015. While at HUC, she opted to add a year to her studies in order to earn a Masters in Jewish Education in 2013. As a student, Rabbi Wohlner served many different communities including Congregation Havurim in Temecula, California; Congregation Aitz Chaim in Great Falls, Montana; and Temple Akiba in Culver City, California. Having lived in the Midwest, and on the East and West Coasts, Rabbi Wohlner looks forward to becoming a Southern Belle at last. Stay connected to Rabbi Bess with:
Senior Education Rabbi Feivel Strauss
Rabbi Feivel Strauss joined Temple Israel in June 2015 as Senior Educator. Earning degrees from Bar Ilan University, Rabbi Strauss received his rabbinic ordination from the Shalom Hartman Institute. As Temple Israel’s Senior Educator, Rabbi Strauss oversees the adult education curriculum, while offering pastoral care and guidance for Temple Israel members. Additionally, Rabbi Strauss is involved with the Memphis interfaith community, as well as the ethics committee for Le Bonheur Children's Hospital. Rabbi Strauss grew up in Boca Raton, Florida and then lived in Israel for fifteen years, where he served in the Israel Defense Force. He met his wife, Abbie at a comedy club in Jerusalem, and together, they enjoy spending their time running after their son, Joseph (age 4) and daughter, Eden (age 3). Stay connected to Rabbi Feivel with:
Cantorial Soloist Abbie Strauss
Cantorial Soloist, Abbie Strauss counts over a decade of experience as a professional musician. Classically trained in vocals with a background in piano, guitar, and saxophone, Abbie’s talent and vision shines throughout the Temple Israel music program, inspiring those within the Temple community and far beyond.
Abbie graduated with a BS from Indiana University and went on to earn a Master of Education. She continued her academics at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, where she studied Hebrew and Jewish texts in Jerusalem. Now, with over seven years of teaching experience coupled with her extensive musical background, Abbie leads all music programming at her synagogue.
Along with her Temple Israel role, Abbie is a renowned songwriter and performer, regularly sharing her music with communities across the US. Singing at Carnegie Hall at 18 and most recently The Memphis Grizzlies NBA game, she also frequently sings at notable Jewish events, such as the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) Biennial conference, Songleader Boot Camp, and NewCAJE. As an Emerging Artist on Jewish Rock Radio and a featured PJ Library musician, you can find her music everywhere. Stay connected to Abbie with:
Rabbi Emeritus Harry K. Danziger
Rabbi Emeritus Harry K. Danziger served as Assistant, Associate, and then Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel from 1978 to 2000. He was selected by Memphis Magazine as one of "Who’s Who in Memphis" and continues to be active in our congregation and in the Memphis community. Rabbi Danziger has been President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the conference of Reform/Liberal/Progressive Rabbis in North America and beyond. He is a member of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and serves on the boards of the Union for Reform Judaism and the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Rabbi Danziger is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He received his Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters and was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Divinity at Rhodes College in 1984 and at HUC-JIR in 1989. He and his wife, Jeanne, have three children and three grandchildren.
Cantor Emeritus John M. Kaplan
Cantor Emeritus John M. Kaplan served as Cantor of Temple Israel from 1981 to 2014. As Cantor, he was a driving force behind both the adult and youth choirs and worked passionately to assist congregants in need as the clergy liaison to Temple's "God’s Unfinished Business." He is a member of the American Conference of Cantors and has served on its Executive Board and as Chair of the Committee on Ethics and Appeals. Cantor Emeritus Kaplan received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Texas, his Cantorial Certification and Investiture from HUC-JIR School of Sacred Music in New York, and his Master of Arts in Religion from Memphis Theological Seminary. In June 2015, he received Rabbinic Ordination from the Rabbinical Academy of America and now Rabbi-Cantor Kaplan serves as spiritual leader of Congregation B'nai Israel in Jackson, Tennessee. He and his wife, Linda, have three children and four grandchildren.