Rabbi Brusso became rabbi of Bet Torah after serving 9 years at Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minnetonka, MN. While in Minnesota Rabbi Brusso created an active group of young Jews in their 20s and 30s, taught Talmud, facilitated a study group on the writings of Abraham Joshua Heschel, coordinated family trips to Israel, chaired the Minnesota Rabbinical Association and participated in the creation of a group that reaches out to members isolated because of age or illness. Rabbi Brusso also dedicated his time to issues of social justice by serving on the boards of the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition and Jewish Community Action. He currently is co-chair of Koach, the Conservative Movement’s national presence on campus.
Rabbi Brusso grew up in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago where he attended Solomon Schechter Day School, Camp Ramah in Wisconsin and was active in United Synagogue Youth. He attended American University in Washington, DC where he received a B.A. in Political Science and Environmental Studies. While in Washington he worked at the Supreme Court of the United States and interned on Capital Hill for his congressman and senator. He was also a leader on campus at Hillel.
One day during his senior year of college, Rabbi Brusso’s Hillel director took him out to lunch and suggested that instead of law school he should consider rabbinical school. The following year he enrolled at the Jewish Theological Seminary where he received ordination from the Rabbinical School and an M.A. in Jewish Philosophy from the Graduate School. He was also awarded the Elbogen Fellowship Memorial Prize in Talmud and the Reverend Zvi Hirsch Masliansky Award in Homiletics.
While in Rabbinical School, Rabbi Brusso served as youth director at Temple Israel in Great Neck and Coordinator of USY Eastern European Programs for the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism in addition to acting as group leader for USY Pilgrimage/Poland Seminar. When not attending to pulpit duties, Rabbi Brusso enjoys writing, following politics, running and quaffing fine craft ales and lagers.
Rabbi Brusso is married to Hana Gruenberg, a native of New Rochelle. Together they have three Minnesota born children: Sari, Zoe and Ilan- please be patient as their accents undergo a transitional period.
Cantor Herman descended from performing vaudevillian grandparents on one side and off-the-boat, Eastern European orthodox Jews on the other, Hazzan Reuven (Randy) Herman seemed destined to integrate the worlds of musical performance and Judaism. He was raised in Grand Rapids, MI, and attended the University of Michigan, majoring in theater and psychology. After working briefly as a musician in Paris, and as an actor on the East Coast, Hazzan Herman settled in Chicago, where he cofounded the critically acclaimed Theater Oobleck, an avant-garde theater troupe. As a pianist, singer and songwriter, he has performed throughout the U.S. and abroad in nightclubs and festivals, at private events, and on live radio, and has worked extensively as a studio musician. In addition to contributing keyboard parts and vocals on several recordings, he has produced his own CD’s which have been heard on college and commercial radio and reviewed in major publications. He is featured on the CD The Spirit of Israel II, produced by the Cantors Assembly and the USCJ.
Hazzan Herman spent a year of study in Jerusalem, where he attended the Conservative Yeshiva, spent time in ultra-orthodox communities, and sang in the Great Synagogue choir. He received cantorial investiture and a Masters of Sacred Music from the Jewish Theological Seminary in NYC in 2008. He has been a featured guest cantor and concert performer in several synagogues throughout the U.S., and has led Shabbat services at the famed Chor Shul (Choral Synagogue) in Vilnius, Lithuania, and at the Great Synagogue of Stockholm. He served as the cantor of Temple Adas Israel in Sag Harbor (The Hamptons); as High Holiday cantor for two years at Temple El Emeth in Youngstown, OH; as a frequent leader of the legendary Friday evening services at Ramath Orah on 110th Street in NYC; as musical director of the Friday Night Live series at Temple Beth El in Stamford, CT; and as the substitute cantor for one year at Temple Israel of Great Neck. Hazzan Herman is currently working on a new CD of his exciting and innovative original Jewish songs. He recently returned from the Cantors Assembly Mission to Poland, where he performed with several cantors at the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival. After a one year, part time interim position at Bet Torah in 2007, Hazzan Herman joined the community as our fulltime Hazzan in the summer of 2008.
Rabbi Lisa Sacks is delighted to be joining Bet Torah as the new Director of Community Engagement and Lifelong Learning. In this role, Rabbi Sacks will help individuals continue their Jewish journeys and find their place in our community.
Rabbi Sacks will be ordained this coming April from the Academy for Jewish Religion, a pluralistic seminary based in Yonkers. As a student she served both Conservative and Reform synagogues in a variety of roles, most recently as the student rabbi for Ohev Sholom Congregation, a Conservative community in York, PA. In recognition of her service and creativity during rabbinical school, she was awarded the AJR Community Service Award and the Rabbi Chana Timoner Creative Liturgy Award.
Over the past ten years Rabbi Sacks developed a particular interest in contemplative practice and Mussar, a tradition within Judaism focused on developing one’s character traits as a spiritual practice. She was trained as a facilitator through The Mussar Institute and hopes to bring some of that tradition to Bet Torah.
Prior to entering the rabbinate, Rabbi Sacks had a wide-ranging career in the public sector working in local, state and national politics, serving as an Assistant Commissioner for the City of New York, as the Executive Director of Beit Rabban Day School, and as the Chief Financial Officer of Hazon, the Jewish environmental organization. She has a BA in government from Cornell University and an MPA from Columbia University. She also spent a year learning at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies on a Dorot Fellowship.
Originally from Santa Cruz, Rabbi Sacks now lives in Hastings-on-Hudson with her two daughters. And she is thrilled to continue the tradition of the Tent Service in offering a more relaxed atmosphere, inspiring prayer intentions, and an engaging participatory experience for the High Holy Days.