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Our Clergy

Rabbi Laurence W. Groffman
Cantor Stephanie Kupfer
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 Stephanie Kupfer

We are so excited to welcome Cantor Stephanie Kupfer to TSWE!

A native of Los Angeles, CA., Cantor Kupfer received her undergraduate degree in music from Pepperdine University and earned a Master’s degree in Vocal Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Cantor Kupfer began her studies for the cantorate at the Academy of Jewish Religion in New York and went on to earn her Master’s degree in Sacred Music from the Academy of Jewish Religion in Los Angeles, where she was ordained as a Cantor in the spring of 2018. 

While studying, Cantor Kupfer worked as a Cantorial soloist and served as aassistant Cantor/Cantorial intern for multiple congregations.

For the past three years, Cantor Kupfer has been the Cantor at Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford, CT. During her tenure there, she created an engaging, joyful, and meaningful spiritual home for congregants of all ages.

 
She is passionate about Israel, feminism, social outreach, and as the descendant of three Holocaust survivors, educating others about antisemitism.

When Cantor Kupfer is not working, she enjoys working out, reading, trying new restaurants, traveling, and baking.

Cantor Kupfer is excited to be our Cantor and to help us continue our sacred work of creating a kehila kedosha, a holy community at Temple Sholom.


There will be opportunities for you to meet Cantor Kupfer over the summer and in the fall. Please be sure to meet her and join us in extending her a warm welcome to our congregation.

 

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.
Mon, September 26 2022 1 Tishrei 5783