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Rabbi Thomas A. Gardner

Rabbi Gardner

Rabbi Gardner was born and raised in New York City. He was ordained in 2008 by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City. Before joining Riverdale Temple in 2015, Rabbi Gardner served as the senior rabbi at Beth Shalom Synagogue in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for eight years.

At Riverdale Temple, Rabbi Gardner has worked to develop a strong sense of community in the congregation, which is immediately felt by all those who attend our services and events. In describing why he became a rabbi, a significant factor for him was the love and great joy and meaning he found in connecting to the deeper currents of life, and, in his role as their rabbi, helping others to do so as well.

He’s the recipient of the Sarah and Samuel Chernick Memorial Prize in Halakhic Literature and the David G. Sacks Scholarship Prize. Rabbi Gardner also has a M.A.H.L. from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, an M.A. from the University of Michigan and a B.A. from Oberlin College.

Rabbi Gardner is the father of two children, Runia and Israel.
(718) 548-3800 x4


Cantor Joshua Finkel

Cantor FinkelCantor Josh Finkel shares with us a love of learning, music, and the pursuit of wisdom. He comes from Saint Louis, Missouri, where he served Temple Emanuel as part-time cantor and Shir Hadash Reconstructionist Community as their spiritual leader, and raised the messages of tolerance and justice through his work with Heartland For Humanity, which fought family separation policies in migrant detention camps, and with Expect Us, which sought to create a safer city for Saint Louisans of color, as well as with the ADL.

Cantor Josh is happily invested in a wide variety of musical styles and traditions – having folk music, traditional cantorial music, classical music, blues, the American musical and many other styles deeply in his bones. He is pleased to bring that breadth to our services, our Hebrew School and families in building a musically rich and participatory Jewish environment merging new and old traditions. He also composes original music and was featured in the Jewish Daily Forward’s ‘Soundtrack of Our Spirit: 21 Jewish Voices That Move Us,’ and received the Josef Freudenthal Memorial Prize for Composition at Hebrew Union College, where he was ordained in 2014.

Cantor loves coffee and conversation, and will be happy to have both or either with you. He loves teaching and learning from folks of all ages and hopes to show each young person whose lives he is a part of that they are truly seen; Cantor Josh considers Fred Rogers his greatest hero.

He is happily married to Dr. Emily Barth, who teaches Early Modern English Literature, like Shakespeare, at Wagner College. They have two wonderful children, Sophie and Jakob, who you may occasionally hear playing hide and seek in the lobby during services. In his free time, Cantor Josh enjoys hiking, cooking, and reading science fiction.
(718) 548-3800 x5

Judith S. Lewis, Rabbi Emerita, D.D.

Rabbi Judith S. Lewis became the rabbi of Riverdale Temple in the summer of 2006, after having served for 14 years as the Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel of the City of New York. She began her tenure at Temple Israel as the Director of Education for six years.

Rabbi Lewis celebrated her 25th year in the rabbinate in 2005, earning an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, where she was ordained in 1980. She was part of the first generation of women rabbis, becoming ordained at a time when there were fewer than a dozen women in the Reform rabbinate. Her undergraduate degree was in Philosophy, from Oberlin College in Ohio.

Upon her retirement in 2015, after serving Riverdale Temple for nine years and 35 years in the rabbinate, Rabbi Lewis has been named Rabbi Emerita.

Stephen D. Franklin, Rabbi Emeritus, D.D., D.H.L.

Rabbi Stephen D. Franklin assumed the post of Rabbi of Riverdale Temple on July 1, 1979. He was graduated as a member of Phi Beta Kappa, cum laude, with honors in English when he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Williams College in 1963. Obtaining rabbinical ordination, as well as the Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, the rabbi also did supplementary work at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Before coming to Riverdale he was a Navy Chaplain, serving at The Great Lakes Naval Training Center and at Camp Lejeune with the Marines; from there he was assigned to a battalion landing team with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. There followed six years as Assistant and then Associate Rabbi of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto and two years as Associate Rabbi of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park (Philadelphia), Pennsylvania. Rabbi Franklin is a Past President of the local Interfaith Clergy Conference and President of the Greater New York Area Reform Rabbis. After serving Riverdale Temple for 24 years, Rabbi Franklin became Rabbi Emeritus in 2003.

Sun, July 14 2024 8 Tammuz 5784