Temple Emanu-El has been a cornerstone in the East Meadow community for more than 50 years. For nearly six decades, the synagogue has served the religious needs of Jewish residents through prayer, schooling and community spirit.
Earlier this year, the Merrick Avenue temple welcomed a new rabbi to its congregation. Rabbi Daniel Bar-Nahum was selected to lead Temple Emanu-El as its temple educator and director of schools.
Bar-Nahum, 31, who moved from Inglewood, NJ to Mineola after receiving the job, previously worked as a rabbinical intern in Teaneck, NJ. He said he got wind of the job opening in East Meadow from a friend, Lyle Rothman, who grew up as a congregant of Temple Emanu-El.
After a series of interviews — over the phone and in person — and meetings, Bar-Nahum was officially hired in June. “I was excited to start working here,” sad Bar-Nahum. “So far I’ve found [East Meadow] to be very warm, very open and welcoming, very down to earth, and I really appreciate how much the community values the role of the synagogue in their life.”
Rabbi Albert Lowenberg was part of the committee that selected Bar-Nahum. Beginning next year, Lowenberg will take over the role of Senior Rabbi, and allow Bar-Nahum to make many of the instructional decisions at Temple Emanu-El.
Bar-Nahum has been in East Meadow for five months since his hire, and said he has enjoyed learning the ins and outs of the community. “One of the perks of the job is getting to meet with people and families and starting to learn who they are,” he said. “It’s a whirlwind for sure. It’s been a lot of learning, a lot of growth, a lot of real opportunity to hear people’s stories and find out what matters to them. And those are the things I really appreciate about this job.”
The new rabbi said he is excited to incorporate his own ideas into the synagogue, but also said he wants to maintain the values that have made Temple Emanu-El so successful over the years. “People are excited for some new ideas and new direction, but also to maintain a sense of where we came from,” said Bar-Nahum. “That’s really the trick to this job, to hold firm all of the great things that have been here and improve upon them.”
But he has already instituted a new prayer curriculum that will challenge kids to better understand the Hebrew language. “By looking at translations and helping them to find meaning behind it, their experience at synagogue is a more meaningful one. We want it to be fun and educational, but we want it to be meaningful.”
His biggest priority, he said, is making educational classes modern and exciting for kids. “We can figure out what our students need to become active adult members of not just our community, but any community of Jews they choose to take part of in the future.”