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Meet the Team

Meet the Team

We are Temple Israel!

Temple Israel is the Reform spiritual home for more than half of the affiliated Jewish community in Memphis, Tennessee, and the Mid-South, holding a pre-eminent role in Reform Judaism nationwide. When it comes down to it, Temple Israel is a diverse congregation made up of many wonderful people. Explore what Temple has to offer!

Clergy

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.  

As the eighth senior rabbi in Temple Israel’s 165-year history, Rabbi Micah D. Greenstein has served his congregation for almost three decades, sustaining its position as the largest synagogue in Tennessee and the Deep South. Reflecting Temple Israel’s commitment to serving the greater community, Greenstein was recognized as the first “Memphian of the Year” by Memphis Magazine in 2013.

Notable honors include “America’s Top 50 Rabbis” by Newsweek/The Daily Beast in 2012 and 2013, Memphis City Council’s “Humanitarian Award” in 2011, “President’s Humanitarian Award” in 2012 by Memphis Theological Seminary, where he has taught future ministers about Judaism since 1992, and the “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ‘Be The Dream’ Legacy Award” in 2016.

Rabbi Greenstein served as two-time president of the Memphis Ministers Association in the 1990s and as an Executive Committee member of the National Civil Rights Museum, where he continues to serve on its Board of Directors. Greenstein served on the National Board of the NAACP and, in 2005, became the first rabbi to preach in the Washington National Cathedral on a Major State Day, Tennessee Day.

A Cornell University National Scholar and Harvard University Kennedy Fellow, Rabbi Greenstein earned his undergraduate degree in Economics and a Masters in Public Administration. After completing a Masters in Hebrew Letters at the Los Angeles campus of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), Greenstein was ordained rabbi and, 25 years later, received his Doctor of Divinity degree from HUC-JIR in Cincinnati. His greatest blessings are his wife, Sheril, and their children Cara (husband Alex), Jake, and Julia.

To connect with Rabbi Micah Greenstein, please contact clergy assistant Jan Klein at 901.937.2771 or email her at jank@timemphis.org.

Associate 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. 

Contact Rabbi Bess Wohlner: 901.937.2771 | rabbibess@timemphis.org

Assistant Rabbi Jeremy Simons

Rabbi Jeremy Simons joined Temple Israel in May 2019 as Assistant Rabbi. In addition to pulpit responsibilities, his role includes overseeing the youth program at Temple Israel, including TI Chai and MeFTY.

Originally from the Boston area, Rabbi Simons earned dual degrees in Political Science and Philosophy from The Ohio State University before working as a synagogue youth director. He received ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2014.

Upon ordination, Rabbi Simons served congregations throughout the Southeast as the Director of Rabbinic Services for the Institute of Southern Jewish Life and later worked as the Director of Hillels of Memphis where he helped launch the chapter at Rhodes College.

Contact Rabbi Jeremy Simons: 901.937.2771 | rabbijeremy@timemphis.org

Senior Educator Rabbi Feivel Strauss

Rabbi Feivel Strauss joined Temple Israel in June 2015 as Senior Educator. Earning degrees in Jewish History 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 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 three children, Joseph, Eden, and Elijah.

Contact Rabbi Feivel Strauss: 901.937.2783 | rabbifeivel@timemphis.org

Cantor Abbie Strauss 

Cantor Abbie Strauss counts over a decade of experience as a professional musician. Classically trained in vocals with a background in piano, guitar, and saxophone, Cantor Strauss’s talent and vision shine throughout the Temple Israel music program, inspiring those within the Temple community and beyond.

Cantor Strauss graduated with a B.S. 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.

Cantor Strauss is a renowned songwriter and performer, regularly sharing her music with communities across the US. Singing at Carnegie Hall at 18 and at home during a 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. 

Contact Cantor Abbie Strauss: 901.937.2796 | abbies@timemphis.org

Harry K. Danziger, Rabbi Emeritus 

Harry K. Danziger, Rabbi Emeritus, 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. 

Contact Rabbi Danziger: 901.761.3130 | timemphis@gmail.com

John M. Kaplan, Cantor Emeritus

John M. Kaplan, Cantor Emeritus, served 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.

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 the spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Israel in Jackson, Tennessee. He and his wife, Linda, have three children and four grandchildren. 

Contact Rabbi Cantor Kaplan: 901.761.3130 | cantorkaplan@timemphis.org

Staff