Longtime Beth Am Rabbi Zweiback heading to Jerusalem this summer


Rabbi Josh Zweiback of Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills has been appointed director of the Year-in-Israel Program at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem, effective July 1.

Zweiback, a Los Altos resident, has served Congregation Beth Am for the past 10 years. During his tenure at Beth Am, Zweiback initiated numerous educational programs, including Tzavta, a family b’nai mitzvah enrichment program; Hagigah, a theater-based children’s education program; Hadracha, a teacher training initiative; and helped found Gan Ami, Beth Am’s early childhood education program.

Zweiback supervised all aspects of Beth Am’s adult education program and taught courses in Talmud, Zionism, Jewish mysticism, Tzedakah, Modern Jewish Thought with a focus on the writings of Emanuel Levinas and Reform Judaism. He worked with colleagues to create and implement a Lifelong Jewish Learning Map, which serves as a curriculum of Jewish studies for all ages of synagogue life. For the past five years, Zweiback served as visiting lecturer at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion Rhea Hirsch School of Education in Los Angeles, teaching a course in Adult Curriculum.

The Peninsula Night of Jewish Unity, initiated by Zweiback, is now in its 11th year. The event brings together more than 20 Jewish institutions in the Bay Area for an evening of Jewish learning and attracts more than 500 people from all of the movements of Judaism.

He has taught seventh-grade Jewish Studies at the Gideon Hausner Jewish Community Day School in Palo Alto for four years, developing an approach to teaching Pirkei Avot through song composition, which culminates each year in the debut of recordings written and performed by students.

Four years ago, Zweiback helped launch Beth Am’s Fund for the Future Endowment campaign, which reached its goal of building a $4 million programmatic endowment for the congregation.

“Zweiback will bring to our Year-in-Israel Program his unique and inspiring energies as dynamic congregational rabbi, master educator, songleader/musician and social activist,” said Rabbi Naamah Kelman, associate dean of Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem. “Throughout his rabbinic career, he has been a leader in the transformation and revitalization of Reform Judaism in the congregation, the classroom and the broader Jewish communal world.”

Zweiback and his wife, Jacqueline Hantgan, a public policy advocate and organizer in the field of stem-cell research, met in Jerusalem in 1992 and said they have long wanted to return there to live. They have three children, Isa, Ariela and Naomi.

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