When you come to meet Rabbi Andrew at Ramat Shalom, he will 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. "Modern technology makes it easy for folks to reach out and connect with me when needed," says Rabbi Andrew. "I get many calls, emails and texts from congregants each day," he explains. "Some 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 frequently use text messaging to fill Rabbi Andrew in on their lives and the Rabbi uses the same technology to check in on them. "While lots of folks feel too connected these days," says Rabbi Andrew, "being accessible to my community allows me to be actively involved in the their lives and this is a blessing."
Rabbi Andrew is deeply committed to Jewish education. "It
is not enough for us to educate our children," explains Rabbi Andrew, "we
must also educate the grown-ups!" Believing strongly that Jews of all ages have the right to learn about their faith and deeply committed to multi-generational education, Rabbi Andrew created Ramat Shalom's "Adult Torah
School". Meeting on Sunday mornings while children
are in Torah School, "Adult Torah School" is engaging, Jewish learning for grown-ups. "Adult Torah School" is open to all adults - particularly parents of Torah School children. Instead of dropping the kids off and doing some
errands on Sunday morning, parents are encouraged to park the car, come into the synagogue with their
children and take part in "Adult Torah School". "This is what it is all about,"
says Rabbi Andrew.
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 for an American History course 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 to 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. And he believes that no matter what your Jewish background is, you have the potential to teach others. "We are 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 our Kabbalat Shabbat service, we invite you to do so. The energy and warmth that Rabbi Andrew and our Cantor Soloist, Debbie Hafetz, bring to each service is wonderful.
Rabbi Andrew was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, Pennsylvania. He holds 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." Many members of the Ramat Shalom community have been encouraged to explore their own beliefs and wrestle with their understanding of God as part of an intensive Spirituality Workshop led by the Rabbi.
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. Rabbi Andrew is a Rabbis Without Borders Fellow.
Rabbi Andrew is a very strong supporter of Israel and is not shy when it comes to speaking up for the security and wellbeing of both Israel and the United States. Given his willingness to take a stand and his knowledge of radical extremist groups right here in the U.S., Rabbi Andrew is frequently called upon to engage community leaders in important conversations pertaining directly to our safety and the safety of our children.
Rabbi Andrew's first children's book, God Looks Like A Hug, was published in 2010. It is a wonderful story that captures a very spiritual conversation between a father and son. The book is illustrated by Rabbi Andrew and his two children.
Rabbi Andrew also writes for "grown ups". Many of his sermons, articles and his weekly column can be found on his blog, BlogShalom. He also writes regularly for The Wisdom Daily
Rabbi Andrew was recently awarded The Spirit of Family Award By Jewish Family Service of Broward County. This award was presented to him in recognition of his efforts to support and compliment the work of Jewish Family Service, a social service agency which helps those in need of food, shelter, financial support, counseling and companionship. Rabbi Andrew proudly serves on the Board of Directors of Jewish Family Service.
Rabbi Andrew and his wife, Rabbi Cheryl Jacobs, have two children, Abigail and Jonah. The Jacobs family lives in Plantation with their two dogs, Douglas (a Maltese) and Ella (a Portugese Water Dog), two parakeets and a rabbit.
We hope that you will come and meet our Rabbi!
If you have questions about weddings, babynamings or other lifecycle events performed by Rabbi Andrew, please click here and scroll down to the lifecycle section.
Feel free to contact Rabbi Andrew directly by calling 954-472-3600 or sending him an email.