Daniel Zemel, Rabbi
“If it’s not broken, break it!” Senior Rabbi Daniel G. Zemel, Temple Micah’s rabbi since 1983, says that much of the model of organized Jewish life in America is broken, but too much of the establishment doesn’t realize it. Temple Micah has come to embrace these ways, which are reflected in the congregation’s restlessness, willingness to grow in ways tangible and intangible, and open-minded approach. “We seek to be good citizens in the nation’s capital through our sponsorship of Micah House, a group home for formerly homeless women in recovery from addiction, as well as many other good deed projects in the community. We seek energy and creativity in our worship. Our approach to Jewish education is constantly evolving,” says Zemel. He feels his primary role at Micah is as a cultural translator— grappling with the challenge of “translating” the inherited Jewish past into a theology and practice that speaks to today.
He loves Temple Micah. One member describes the congregation as “a smart, messy place with a soul.” He finds all three of those designations uplifting. After all, everything that is hard is messy.
A graduate of Brown University, Rabbi Zemel received his rabbinic ordination from the New York campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1979. Over the years, he has been involved in numerous community and Jewish organizations but derives greatest satisfaction from being a founder of Micah House. His twenty year involvement with Synagogue 2000 was instrumental in shaping his vision of synagogue life and the role of rabbi. Rabbi Zemel has written many articles and essays on a wide variety of Jewish topics. He has contributed an essay to each volume of the Prayers of Awe series, a multi-volume commentary on the High Holy Day liturgy.
Rabbi Zemel is blessed with a loving family that is the center of his life. When not at Micah, he is either with family, visiting Israel, reading, studying, thinking, or dreaming of his beloved Chicago White Sox playing in the World Series.
Contact Rabbi Zemel:
“Defending the Liberal Zionist Bridge II” – Kol Nidre Sermon 5780
“God is a Methaphor” – Rosh Hashanah Sermon 5780
“The Zionist Bridge” – Kol Nidre Sermon 5779
“Nothing New Under the Sun” – Rosh Hashanah Sermon 5779
“Israel at Seventy” – Yom Haatzmaut Sermon 2018
“An Open Letter to the Israeli prime minister” – Washington Jewish Week, February 22, 2018
“My Sense of God” – December 2, 2017
“The American Synagogue: In Search of Profundity” – Yom Kippur 5778
“5777/5778” – Rosh Hashanah 5778
Rabbi Zemel in the Washington Post – “He said he wouldn’t preach politics. Then Trump won, and he gave his sermon in tears.“
“We Will Rise” Sermon Following the Election – November 11, 2016
“Job Encounters the Machzor” – Kol Nidre 5777
“Not Dead Inside” – Rosh Hashanah 5777
“Israel: The Place I Love That Does Not Love Me in Return Or I Am Still a Zionist” – Rosh Hashannah 5775
Josh Beraha, Associate Rabbi
Rabbi Beraha loves pondering ways develop a culture of radical passion for Jewish living and how best to create and sustain a shared quest for Jewish identity through experience and study. As the Associate Rabbi and Director of Congregational Learning at Temple Micah, he spends his time doing just that.
Rabbi Beraha grew up in Providence, Rhode Island and spent too many summers to count as a camper and later as a counselor at the Union for Reform Judaism’s OSRUI camp in Oconomowoc, WI. Before entering rabbinical school Rabbi Beraha earned a B.A. in history and Hebrew literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an M.A. in education through the New York City Teaching Fellows Program. He then spent five years teaching students with special needs at a public school on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. During his time at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Rabbi Beraha was awarded the prestigious Bonnie and Daniel Tisch Rabbinical Fellowship in recognition of academic success and leadership potential, which brought him to Temple Micah as an intern in 2012. He was ordained in 2014.
When he’s not at Temple Micah you might find him running around town with his wife Nani, and their three very loud and lively children—Raphael, Maya, and Lily, listening to music, brewing fancy coffee, and searching for the city’s best bread.
Contact Rabbi Beraha:
Stephanie Crawley, Assistant Rabbi
Rabbi Crawley is thrilled to be back at Temple Micah! Rabbi Crawley was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, and spent her summers playing competitive softball and attending Jewish summer camp. Stephanie is a proud alumna of Case Western Reserve University, where she received her degree in Political Science and International Relations, with a minor in Jewish Studies. She has served as a Jewish educator and musician in a variety of capacities in Manhattan, Connecticut, D.C., Jerusalem, Czech Republic, Belarus, Washington, California, and Ohio, and spent a transformative summer as a Spiritual Counselor at Beit T’shuvah, a Jewish addiction treatment center. While at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Rabbi Crawley was part of the highly regarded Bonnie and Daniel Tisch Rabbinical Fellowship, and worked for Rabbi Larry Hoffman in the development of a worship center for the Reform Movement. She loves tacos almost as much as she loves Torah, and believes that the search for hidden voices in sacred texts helps us find our own. Stephanie is a passionate recycler, book collector, and St. Louis Cardinals fan.
Contact Rabbi Crawley:
Samantha Frank, Rabbinic Fellow
Rabbi Samantha Gayler Frank was raised in Silver Spring, MD – a local! She graduated from Tufts University, where she earned her B.A. in French and Community Health. Prior to becoming a Rabbi, she taught English in France and worked as a research assistant at the NYU Child Study Center in the field of mental health policy. She later served as student rabbi at Temple Beth Am in Monessen, PA, rabbinical intern at Yale Hillel: Joseph Slifka Center for Student Life in New Haven, CT, and as rabbinical intern here at Temple Micah in Washington DC. Samantha was honored to be a Bonnie and Daniel Tisch Rabbinical Fellow and recipient of the BeWise Fellowship for entrepreneurship, and was named one of 36 Under 36 Innovators Lighting the Way by the New York Jewish Week.
She is currently a Rabbinic Fellow at Temple Micah, where she is creating a new cycle of haftarot readings that will serve to reanimate the prophetic voice in Shabbat worship. Samantha is also co-creator of the Jewish educational resource, @Modern_Ritual (on Instagram and at www.modernritual.org). In addition to thinking creatively about how to share the beauty and meaning of Jewish tradition, Samantha loves pasta and yoga. She lives in Brooklyn.