Rabbi Rona Shapiro, of B’nai Jeshurun Congregation in Pepper Pike, has accepted a position as rabbi of Congregation B’nai Jacob in Woodbridge, Conn.
Shapiro will start her new job Aug. 1. She announced in November that she would resign from her position at B’nai Jeshurun at the end of her contract, effective June 30.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity,” she said. “It’s a wonderful congregation with about 500 families and a storied legacy.
“There will be a lot of wonderful opportunities for me and for them.”
Shapiro will be the first woman rabbi at B’nai Jacob, a Conservative synagogue located five miles from Yale University in New Haven, Conn.
She became the first female rabbi to head a Conservative synagogue in Cleveland in 2007 when she was named spiritual leader at Congregation Bethaynu in Pepper Pike. She joined the clergy at B’nai Jeshurun when the two congregations combined membership in April 2011.
“During her tenure as rabbi at Congregation Bethaynu and B’nai Jeshurun Congregation, Rabbi Shapiro has touched all of us, teaching, inspiring and guiding us with her deep passion for Judaism and spirituality and her warmth and caring,” Rabbi Stephen Weiss, senior rabbi at B’nai Jeshurun, said in a March 15 letter to congregation members.
“Congregation B’nai Jacob is fortunate to have found such an extraordinary rabbi to serve as their spiritual guide. We know that their synagogue and community will thrive under her leadership.”
Shapiro said she and her family will move to Connecticut this summer.
“We have loved living in Cleveland, and I have loved serving as your rabbi,” she said in a March 15 letter to B’nai Jeshurun members. “I am deeply grateful to B’nai Jeshurun Congregation for taking us in (after Bethaynu closed) and giving me the opportunity to work as part of its wonderful clergy team and to serve you.”
Shapiro said her job at B'nai Jeshurun has offered her opportunities to do a lot of innovative programming and to expand her skill set.
“We’re very excited about this new chapter in our lives but also sad to leave behind so many friends with whom we have grown so close,” she said in her letter.
A native of New York, Shapiro was ordained at The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University.
B’nai Jeshurun is planning a special l’hitraot (“until we meet again”) tribute to Shapiro May 30 at the synagogue to express its appreciation to her and her family, Weiss said in his letter.
Shapiro and her husband, David Franklin, live in Shaker Heights with their daughters, Noa, 15, and Hallel, 12.