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Our Clergy

Rabbi Laurence W. Groffman
Cantor Kenneth Feibush
Rabbi Emeritus Norman R. Patz

Rabbi Laurence W. Groffman

Allow me to tell you a little bit about myself. I am a central New Jersey native, where my parents were one of the earliest members of the Reform congregation in my town. I grew up at our Temple, which felt like home to me. Inspired by my rabbi and my family’s commitment to Judaism and our Temple, I felt drawn , in my teens, to the rabbinate.
After graduation from Brandeis University in 1988, I entered the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), from which I received my Rabbinic Ordination in 1993.
While at HUC-JIR, I was the rabbinic intern at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, NJ, and I stayed there for 16 years, eventually becoming the congregation’s Senior Rabbi.
In 2004, my wife and I became foster parents to baby Amaya, whom we eventually adopted, and in 2005, our son Isaac was born.
In 2006, I came here, to Temple Sholom of West Essex, and I have found it to be a wonderful community. I greatly appreciate the warmth and the low key, welcoming nature of our congregation.
In 2007, we became foster parents again, this time to baby Samara, whom we also eventually adopted, and in 2009, our son Caleb was born.
My wife, Melissa, and I love living in Montclair with our four wonderful children (and our dog!).
My mission as a rabbi is to ensure that everyone, regardless of their background, feels comfortable in our congregation. Whether you come from an observant Jewish background, no Jewish background, or somewhere in between, you are welcome here.
One of my greatest joys as a rabbi is the privilege of being a part of my congregant’s lives. I do hope that you will not hesitate to explore our congregation, so that it might become a part of your life. Feel free to give me a call or send me an e-mail–I would love the opportunity to get to know you and your family.

Cantor Kenneth Feibush

Kenneth Feibush is thrilled to begin his cantorial career at Temple Sholom.  He is a recent ordinee of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion where he also received a Master’s of Sacred Music. As a cantorial student, he has served pulpits at Beth Shalom Synagogue in Baton Rouge, Congregation Or Hatzafon in Fairbank, AK, and Hebrew Tabernacle in Washington Heights.  Kenny also served as the Student Co-Coordinator of the HUC-JIR Soup Kitchen.  He graduated from Rutgers College with a B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies and Psychology and a minor in Spanish and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.  Kenny led the Reform community at Rutgers Hillel where he helped stage a protest against the Westboro Baptist Church his senior year.  He also performed with Deep Treble, a co-ed a cappella group at Rutgers.  Among his favorite performances was a special concert with Youtube sensation, Miranda Sings.  In addition to his love of singing, Kenny is also an avid violinist and violist, enjoys sightseeing, the arts, and knits for friends and family.  Kenny is a native Jerseyian having grown up in Watchung.  He looks forward to reconnecting with his Jersey pride as Cantor of Temple Sholom.

Rabbi Emeritus, Norman R. Patz

Rabbi Norman R. Patz became our spiritual leader in the summer of 1969 and was named Rabbi Emeritus in June, 2006. Under his guidance, the congregation grew from 147 members to over 400 families living throughout the West Essex area; we built our gem-like sanctuary and extended our school wing; we became custodians of a Czech Holocaust Torah from Dvúr Králové, where, in 2008, we dedicated a monument to that destroyed Jewish community.
His ministry has always stressed Jewish “peoplehood” and strong engagement with Israel and Diaspora communities. He and Naomi have led many congregational trips to Israel and Jewish sites in Europe, and brought hundreds of confirmands to Israel for 6-7 week summer visits and, in most recent years, to Prague and Amsterdam.
Rabbi Patz was an early and passionate activist for Soviet Jewry. With his help, we sponsored and welcomed refusenik families into our congregation, and also helped a Laotian family, refugees from the war in Vietnam and Cambodia, find a secure home in our country.
Rabbi Patz’s liturgical style combines dignity and warmth and his strength as a teacher and pastor speaks to his belief in the vitality and centrality of Reform Judaism for our time. Siddur Netivot Sholom, our congregation’s prayer book created by Naomi Patz, reflects these values, as does Obligations of the Heart, a compilation of his brilliant High Holy Day sermons.
Among his past community involvements are: National Chairman of the UJA Rabbinic Cabinet, Vice-Chair of the NJ State Commission on Holocaust Education, President (now President Emeritus) of the Society for the History of the Jews of Czechoslovakia, chair of the Metropolitan NJ Conference on Soviet Jewry and of the Community Relations Committee of MetroWest, Trustee of the Newark Museum and a member of the board of the Cedar Grove Free Public Library.
The rabbi holds adjunct positions at Montclair State University and Caldwell University.
Since his retirement from our congregation, Rabbi Patz has been part of a rotation of retired Reform rabbis who serve Temple Beth Shalom of Puerto Rico, officiating there for the High Holy Days and for several months during the winter.
Rabbi Patz received a B.A. cum laude from Harvard College; a Bachelor of Jewish Education from the Hebrew Teachers College; a B.A. and, in 1965, an M.A. in Hebrew Literature and rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, which awarded him a Doctor of Divinity degree in 1990.
Rabbi and Naomi have been married for 52 years and have two daughters and four granddaughters.
Wed, May 18 2022 17 Iyar 5782