TOMS RIVER – Creating Jewish Memories at the Jersey Shore is the motto of Congregation B’nai Israel (CBI) of Toms River, New Jersey so it is only fitting that a Jersey Boy returns to his roots as Rabbi of this 68 year old congregation.
CBI is excited to announce the appointment of Rabbi William Gershon as Interim Rabbi and his return to the Jersey Shore in time for the High Holidays. Rabbi Gershon will join Hazzan Steven Walvick, who is in his 10th year at CBI, as they together will lead the congregation’s 240 plus member families and provide Jewish leadership to the greater Toms River Jewish Community.
By his own words upon introduction to CBI, Rabbi Gershon said “My roots come from New Jersey, where I grew up in Ocean Township (Wanamassa) and my family were members of Temple Beth Torah with Rabbi Jacob Friedman z”l. Many members of my extended family still live in the shore area, making Toms River a very appealing location for an interim rabbinic position.”
For 29 years Rabbi Gershon has served pulpits as congregational rabbi in Michigan, Minneapolis and most recently Dallas, at one of the Conservative movement’s flagship congregations.
In the words of Philip Brilliant, President of CBI, “Rabbi Gershon is a rabbi’s rabbi in the world of rabbi’s! I knew the minute I was introduced to him that CBI and Rabbi Gershon met at this time because, as my mother always said, ‘it was meant to be.’ Rabbi Gershon was our destiny.”
Most of Rabbi Gershon’s career has been devoted to education and engagement with a long track record of creating innovative educational models and programs that address the needs and spiritual yearnings of a wide range of ages. He has built his career on cultivating deep, meaningful and long-lasting relationships, creating and sharing powerful and intimate spiritual moments and going beyond the walls of the synagogue to engage Jews wherever they may be geographically, emotionally and spiritually.
“My style of leadership is one of collaboration and team building with an emphasis on maximizing compelling Jewish experiences, meaningful learning and spiritual growth in both traditional and non-traditional settings,” said Rabbi Gershon.
Rabbi Gershon is a past President of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international organization of Conservative/Masorti Rabbis and continues to serve on its Executive Council. Rabbi Gershon has served on the Boards of Directors or Advisory Leadership Committees of many major Jewish organizations including National Council of AIPAC, The Jewish Theological Seminary, Council of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. He has been honored in the past by the State of Israel Bonds with The Israel Freedom Award, the UJA Rabbinic Cabinet with the Rabbinic Leadership Award and been awarded the Solomon Schechter Award in Family Education. Rabbi Gershon is a graduate of the Joint Program of Columbia University and The Jewish Theological Seminary, where he graduated with honors. He also earned a Masters of Arts in Jewish Studies and received his Rabbinic Ordination and most recently an Honorary Doctorate from JTS.
Rabbi Gershon will arrive at CBI on August 27, however he is already working with Hazzan Walvick, the staff and Board of CBI to plan for the coming year. “With the arrival of Rabbi Gershon the congregation is poised for an inspirational beginning to the New Year and a bright future.”