Rabbi Andrew Jacobs
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MEET OUR RABBI
“As soon as you meet him,” says one of Rabbi Andrew’s students, “you just know that he loves to teach.” Rabbi Andrew’s adult education classes make Judaism come to life. His discussions with children and teens are challenging. He incorporates learning into services and holiday celebrations in ways that add to the meaning and spirituality of the moment. On top of this, Rabbi Andrew is an incredibly warm and caring person who goes out of his way to connect with us all. Put simply, once you meet our Rabbi, you’ll want to come to synagogue!
When you do meet Rabbi Andrew, he’ll probably give you his cell phone number. He believes that a Rabbi should be accessible for any reason. While he certainly enjoys meeting with people face to face, Rabbi Andrew appreciates that busy schedules make it challenging for many to connect with their Rabbi. “There are so many ways for folks to reach out and connect with me when needed,” says Rabbi Andrew. “I get many calls, emails, texts and social media messages from congregants every day,” he explains. “Some folks have a simple question, some are sharing good news and some need support as they struggle with life’s challenges.” Ramat Shalom’s teens and college students regularly connect with Rabbi Andrew using social media and texts – as do many adult members of our community. “While lots of folks feel too connected these days,” says Rabbi Andrew, “being accessible to my community allows me to be actively involved in their lives and this is a blessing.”
Rabbi Andrew is deeply committed to Jewish education. He’s actively involved in our Early Childhood Center, our Torah School and our 8th-12th grade iServe program. He believes strongly that Jews of all ages have the right to learn about their faith and puts a great deal of time and energy into building a vibrant adult education program at Ramat Shalom. He also built ChaiTech, an online Hebrew School that gives students the ability to learn wherever they are, whenever they have the time.
Our Rabbi was raised by Jewish parents, but had no real Jewish education growing up. His Jewish journey began when he was a student at Vassar College:
“It was my freshman year in college. I was doing a research project on my family’s immigration to the U.S when I stumbled across a photo of my great-great grandfather. He was a rabbi. I remember looking at his photo and just feeling this incredible desire to reconnect with his culture…to my culture. That was the beginning of this amazing journey, a journey that thankfully continues today.”
Rabbi Andrew is proud of the fact that he became a bar mitzvah when he was 26 years old. As he tells us often, he knows firsthand what it feels like to have questions about Judaism and be too embarrassed to ask them. Rabbi Andrew reminds us that all questions are good questions, all questions can teach. He believes that no matter what your Jewish background is, you have the potential to teach others. “We’re all teachers and students,” is one of his favorite lines.
On a regular basis, Rabbi Andrew officiates at a Shabbat service during which one of our children becomes a bar or bat mitzvah. If you have not experienced one of these services, or one of our Kabbalat Shabbat services, we invite you to do so. The energy and warmth that Rabbi Andrew and our Cantor, Debbie Hafetz, bring to each service is wonderful.
Rabbi Andrew was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, Pennsylvania. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Vassar College and a Masters of Arts in Jewish Art and Material Culture from the Jewish Theological Seminary in consortium with Columbia University and the Jewish Museum of New York. He has also studied at The American Jewish University in Los Angeles and The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. During his years of study, Rabbi Andrew was greatly influenced by Kabbalah which he says allowed him to discover his own sense of spirituality and a deep, powerful connection with God.
Rabbi Andrew has been our spiritual leader since 2002. Prior to coming to South Florida, he was the Assistant Rabbi at Bet Am Shalom Synagogue in White Plains, NY. For many years, he has been actively involved with many local and national Jewish organizations, including serving as a past President of the Broward County Board of Rabbis. In 2016-2017 he had the opportunity to study at the University of Pennsylvania’s Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies as a LEAP Fellow. Since 2013, Rabbi Andrew has been a Rabbis Without Borders Fellow.
Rabbi Andrew posts regularly on his blog. His work can also be found on The Wisdom Daily. He is active on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. In 2010, he and his children, Abigail and Jonah, published God Looks Like A Hug, a wonderful story that captures a very spiritual conversation between a father and son.
Rabbi Andrew, his wife, Rabbi Cheryl Jacobs, Abigail and Jonah live in Plantation with their two dogs, Douglas (a Maltese) and Ella (a Portuguese Water Dog).
We hope that you’ll come and meet our Rabbi!