Bozeman’s first Passover seder included two couples. During the 80s and early 90s, a small and loosely organized group of Jews, led by Stan Rosenberg who became trained by the Rabbinical Aide Camp, began meeting for Shabbat and holiday services. Some of the families journeyed to Butte, MT for High Holiday services.
Congregation Beth Shalom is incorporated and affiliates with URJ. There are approximately 50 member families.
Beth Shalom’s first Bar Mitzvah under traveling Rabbi Stanley. The congregation grew to over 60 families. Student Rabbis who led us during this period included Mike Commins, Robert Nosanchuck, Michael Lotker, and Emily Rosenzweig.
The congregation purchased our current building and opened the doors to the first synagogue in Montana in over 50 years.
Congregation hired Reconstructionist trained Rabbi Anne Jawyer as our first full-time Rabbi.
The Congregation hired Rabbi Allen Secher, who brought almost 40 years of bima experience in Los Angeles and Chicago to the Bozeman community. Rabbi Secher, while living primarily in Whitefish, MT, spent 10 days each month in Bozeman for four years.
The congregation hired, as its first resident rabbi, Rabbi Ed Stafman, a former trial lawyer specializing in defending death penalty cases. Rabbi Ed was ordained by ALEPH, the seminary of the Jewish Renewal Movement. He was one of the first intermarried rabbis in the Unites States. Congregation Beth Shalom grows beyond 80 member families.
Membership increases to over 100 families.
Rabbi Ed Stafman retired and was given the honorary title of Rabbi Emeritus. For the 2018-2019 transition year, the congregation hired Rabbi Michael Lotker to conduct services once a month in Bozeman. The congregation also hired Amber Ikeman as its full-time Director of Music and Community Engagement. She remained in that position until summer 2022.
The congregation hired Rabbi Mark Kula, who previously served as a Cantor and Rabbi in Miami, Florida for 30 years. He remained in that position until summer 2021.
The congregation hired Rabbi Sonja K. Pilz, PhD, a liturgist by training and writer by passion who previously worked for the Central Conference of American Rabbis and at HUC-JIR in NYC with experience leading communities in Europe, Israel, and the U.S.
Richard Wolff, Chair
Randi Levin (Accessibility and Inclusion)
Lynn Rosen (Safety)
Cyd Kellman, Chair
Sharon Tholt, Chair
Sharon Tholt, Janel Carino, Randi Levin, Phyllis Lefohn, Janet Tatz, Rabbi Sonja; Richard Wolff, Jim Nallik, Rabbi Ed
Susie Becker (Chair)
And the countless volunteers of Beth Shalom
Ashley Mansfield, Chair
Jake Werner, Chair
Bill Lazar (Chair)
Rabbi Sonja K. Pilz, PhD, earned her doctorate from the department of Rabbinic Literature at Potsdam University in Germany and holds Rabbinic Ordination from Abraham Geiger College in Germany. Prior to becoming the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Shalom, she worked for the Central Conference of American Rabbis as Editor of CCAR Press. She also taught Worship, Liturgy, and Ritual at HUC-JIR in New York and the School of Jewish Theology at Potsdam University, and served as a rabbinic intern, adjunct rabbi, and cantorial soloist for congregations in Germany, Switzerland, Israel, and the US. Not surprisingly, she loves to write poetry, midrashim, and prayers. Her work has been published in ERGON, Liturgy, Worship, the CCAR Journal, Ritual Well, and a number of anthologies. She lives with her husband and son in Bozeman, MT.
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Ed Stafman served as Rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom from 2008, through his retirement in 2018. He came to Bozeman following eight years of Rabbinic study and ordination in the ALEPH Rabbinic program, which is part of the Jewish Renewal movement.
Rabbi Ed is the immediate Past President of OHALAH, the Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal, consisting of more than 200 rabbis from around the world.
Prior to becoming a rabbi, Rabbi Ed spent 27 years as a trial lawyer in Tallahassee, Florida, specializing in defending death penalty cases. In addition to a law degree and Rabbinic ordination, Rabbi Ed holds a master’s degree in Religion and has completed the coursework (but still lacks a dissertation) for a PhD in Religions of Western Antiquity, which includes early Judaism, early Christianity, and Greek & Roman religion, from Florida State University.
Rabbi Ed is married for 34 years to Beth, a calligrapher, book and graphic artist, a web designer, and a pianist. They have two children, Laura, who holds a PhD in Cancer Biology, and is a physician and 6th year resident in general surgery at University of Alabama, Birmingham; and Logan, who is in his final year at Princeton University, where he is working towards his PhD in computer science.
Although retired from Beth Shalom, Rabbi Ed remains active in interfaith and social justice work in Bozeman and Montana. He continues to appear monthly with other Bozeman clergy on the Interfaith Panel and writes a monthly religion column for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. He will occasionally perform rabbinic functions for Beth Shalom when called upon by the Board or new rabbi. He is also sometimes available for non-members for individual spiritual counseling and life cycle events.
Seth Cooper, President; Finance and Future, Beth Shalom for Food Equity, Shalom Teens
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