For more than 150 years, The Temple has weathered many changes and transitions, growing exponentially to more than 4,000 individual members. Beginning in May, and over the next couple of months, Atlanta’s oldest Reform congregation will see some significant personnel changes.
The Temple is simultaneously saying goodbye to Rabbi Sam Kaye, celebrating Cantor Deborah Hartman’s and Executive Director Mark Jacobson’s transitions to emeritus status and saying hello to Cantor Tracey Scher and Kelli Harran —the congregation’s new director of engagement — and her husband, Roee.
In addition, Rabbi Lydia Medwin is transitioning to a full pulpit role from her current position as director of engagement.
“A key component of our mission and vision is: we are our history, our future,” said Senior Rabbi Peter Berg. “In other words, our past continuously informs our future.”
Newly installed President Louis Lettes echoed the sentiment, calling this an exciting time for the congregation. “Mark Jacobson and Cantor Hartman aren’t leaving us; they are transitioning to well-deserved emeriti roles after truly remarkable careers,” he told the AJT.
Kelli Harran, The Temple’s new director of engagement, joined the congregation in May, following a three-month search. “I am beyond thrilled to be joining this historic, diverse gem of a religious institution. The Temple has deep roots and a rich legacy both locally and nationally, but it is also inclusive, innovative and forward-thinking. It is an honor to have the opportunity to partner with the clergy and my engagement department colleagues to carry forward, build on and expand the phenomenal work that has been done in the engagement realm under Rabbi Medwin’s thoughtful and visionary leadership,” she said.
Harran and her husband, Roee, who also happens to be The Temple’s new cellist, are among the congregation’s newest members.
Hartman’s successor, Cantor Tracey Scher, will join The Temple from Larchmont Temple in New York, beginning July 1.
Scher earned a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Acadia University, and a graduate degree in Opera Performance from Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. She pursued the cantorate and graduated from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in NYC with a Master of Sacred Music Degree in 2003.
“Music is crucial to the spiritual life of a community,” she said. “I look forward to joining The Temple family, getting to know each person’s story and lifting our voices together in spirit and song.”
After four years, Rabbi Kaye will be leaving the congregation to become the associate rabbi at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto.
“The clergy and professional team at The Temple have taught me so much, the friendship of the rabbinic community here in Atlanta opened my eyes even more, but the greatest Torah I received during my time in Atlanta came from the members of our Jewish community,” Rabbi Kaye said. “Atlanta has a thriving young Jewish community, supported by the wisdom of its elders, and made the most beautiful when we come together as one family. May we go from strength to strength!”
Meanwhile, Cantor Hartman, who has been The Temple’s spiritual music leader for 23 years and the congregation’s soloist for a decade before that, will stay on for another year.
“Being a cantor has enriched my life immeasurably, as it has allowed me to share in the most sacred moments of the lives of our Temple families,” she said. “Standing with them through the cycles of life: baby namings, b’nei mitzvah, weddings, funerals and worship has been an incredible privilege.”
Rabbi Medwin, who has led the congregation’s engagement department for eight years, says she is “excited to transition to my new role as The Temple’s Associate Rabbi.” She has every faith in Harran, who “will do an excellent job carrying on our focus on relational engagement.”
Harran is “talented and passionate about the Jewish community,” Medwin says, and “will quickly become part of the Temple family.
“We are excited to continue engaging Temple members, along with our larger community, from every aspect of our organization. People remain at the center of our work — inspiring them, caring for them, and encouraging them to fulfill the mitzvah of transforming our world for the better.”
- Jan Jaben-Eilon
- The Temple of Atlanta
- Rabbi Sam Kaye
- Cantor Deborah Hartman
- Executive Director Mark Jacobson
- Cantor Tracey Scher
- Kelli Harran
- Rabbi Lydia Medwin
- Rabbi Peter Berg
- President Louis Lettes
- Larchmont Temple
- Music Education
- Acadia University
- Opera Performance
- Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University.