Rabbi Hazzan Jeremy Lipton was hired as the spiritual leader of Beth El Congregation in Akron, the congregation announced July 20.
Lipton’s tenure officially begins Sept. 1, but he will be in the phasing-in process in the weeks prior to then.
He replaces the congregation’s most recent spiritual leaders, Rabbi Elyssa Austerklein and her husband, Hazzan Matt Austerklein, who announced their departure in May following four years with the congregation. The Austerkleins’ last day with Beth El is July 31.
“We are thrilled to welcome Rabbi Lipton and his family to our community,” said Sharon Merklin, president of Beth El Congregation, in a news release. “His extensive experience, passion for Jewish life and learning, and proven track record of outreach and community building made him the obvious choice for this role.”
Merklin said the search committee established to find the Austerkleins’ replacements found exactly what they were looking for in Lipton.
“He was the only one we interviewed,” Merklin told the Cleveland Jewish News July 20. “He hit it out of the ballpark with the first interview.”
Lipton carries over 25 years of pulpit experience as a rabbi, hazzan and Jewish communal leader in Conservative congregations in Los Angeles; San Antonio, Texas; and Toulouse, France. He most recently served as the head of school for Talmud Torah in Minnesota, a community-wide, supplemental educational organization affiliated with the two largest Conservative synagogues in the Twin Cities.
Lipton received his rabbinic ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in Yonkers, N.Y., and his Hazzan-Minister Commission from the Cantors Assembly. He continues to be active in the Cantors Assembly, where he has held many regional and international leadership positions.
Lipton is also a board member of the Jewish Educators Assembly. He holds a Master’s Degree in Jewish studies, and both Bachelor’s and Master’s of Music degrees.
Lipton said the conversations he had with Merklin about the congregation, the area and the position ignited his interest.
“Our conversations reminded me how much I value being immersed in a tight-knit Jewish community, where clergy have the opportunity to really get to know their members on a personal, interactive level, allowing them to be engaged in every aspect of their lives,” Lipton said in a July 20 email to the CJN.
Following his in-person interview, Lipton realized a future in the “Rubber Capital of the World.”
“The warmth of the Beth El community was evident from the moment I visited, and I knew it was the right fit for this moment in my career,” Lipton said in the release.
Lipton is no stranger to Akron. As an active member of the Cantors Assembly – which is headquartered in Fairlawn, he frequently attended professional meetings in Akron and Cleveland.
It’s Lipton’s hope to move to the Akron area by the third week in August.
“I have always found Akron to be welcoming and accessible – small enough to be intimate, but large enough to provide a variety of cultural experiences, opportunities for higher learning, and of course, known for its natural beauty,” Lipton said.
As Beth El’s rabbi, he will aim to extend Jewish living to congregants in a myriad of ways.
“I feel that my primary role as a congregational rabbi is to serve as a guide in enabling community members to experience and view every aspect of their lives through a Jewish lens,” Lipton said. “(My wife, Kay,) and I hope to bring people into relationship with each other and with the Divine Presence through a variety of Jewish experiences and Jewish expression, and provide tools for them to live intentionally Jewish lives.”
Lipton emphasized his excitement for this new chapter of his life.
“My wife, Kay, and I look forward to growing the community through nurturing relationships, engagement, and the universal language of music, infusing our tefillah experiences with uplifting joy, spirituality, and meaning.”
The Liptons have lived in Minnesota for the past three years. Kay is a musicologist. The couple’s two sons, Jonathan and Adam, live in Los Angeles and Texas, respectively.