Jewish Community in Bozeman, Montana
Rabbi Ed Stafman began to serve as Rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom in August, 2008, following eight years of Rabbinic study and ordination in the ALEPH Rabbinic program, which is part of the Jewish Renewal movement.
Jewish renewal is a worldwide, transdenominational movement, grounded in Judaism’s mystical tradition, and which seeks to bring relevance, creativity, joy, and an all-embracing awareness to spiritual practice, as a way to bring about tikun halev (healing of the heart) and tikun olam (healing of the world). Jewish Renewal rabbis are trained to work in any and all movements of Judaism. Jewish Renewal promotes religious equality for women and all previously disenfranchised Jews, and is open and welcoming towards those of other faith traditions.
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. He has previously served as head of OHALAH’s tikun olam committee and in various other capacities.
Rabbi Ed spent 27 years as a trial lawyer in Tallahassee, Florida, specializing in defending death penalty cases, prior to deciding to attend Rabbinic school. He was largely a secular Jew during much of that time — although he spent 20 years on the Board of a Reform synagogue and 4 years as president — when “I discovered the great richness and wonder in Jewish tradition, texts and practices – so much that I decided to make it my full time endeavor.”
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 32 years to Beth, a calligrapher, book and graphic artist, a web designer, and a pianist. They have two children, Laura, a physician doing a residency in general surgery at University of Alabama, Birmingham, and Logan, who is at Princeton University, where he is working towards his PhD in computer science.
Rabbi Ed brings much enthusiasm to Bozeman and, working with the Board, plans expansion of many of the programs of Congregation Beth Shalom. Services, led by Rabbi Ed, are designed to deepen and enrich the worship experience. He loves to teach in our adult education program and is supportive of the work of the social action committee. Rabbi Ed is particularly excited about working with interfaith families and with the larger interfaith community in Bozeman. He is also available for individual spiritual counseling, for visits for the ill, and of course, for all life cycle events.