Our Clergy

Rabbi Thomas A. Gardner

rabbiRabbi Gardner was born and raised in New York City. He was ordained in 2008 by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City. He’s the recipient of the Sarah and Samuel Chernick Memorial Prize in Halakhic Literature and the David G. Sacks Scholarship Prize. Rabbi Gardner also has a M.A.H.L. from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, an M.A. from the University of Michigan and a B.A. from Oberlin College. Rabbi Gardner and his wife Alina are the parents of a girl and a boy.

Rabbi Gardner served as the senior rabbi at Beth Shalom Synagogue in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for the past 8 years. In describing why he became a rabbi, a significant factor for him was the love and great joy and meaning he found in connecting to the deeper currents of life, and in his role as their rabbi helping others to do so as well.

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Cantor Inbal Sharett-Singer

InbalBioPicCantor Inbal Sharett-Singer has been serving Riverdale Temple since 2012. She began as a cantorial student and joined our clergy team in 2015, upon receiving her M.A. in Sacred Music and ordination from HUC-JIR’s Debbie Friedman’s School of Sacred Music.

Born and raised in Israel, Cantor Sharett – Singer proudly served in the Israeli Defence Forces. Upon moving to New York City at 2006, she graduated Cum Laude from the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College in 2008. As a classical soloist she performed at New York City’s most prestigious establishments such at the United Nations and the Town Hall Theater, as well as  appearing in concerts in Israel, Italy and Austria. Cantor Sharett-Singer also proudly served as a National Anthem Singer for the NYC Marine Corps.

Cantor Sharett-Singer plays an important role in our Temple’s worship experience. Together with Rabbi Thomas Gardner, she introduced the energetic Ruach Shabbat service with our live band. This dynamic service quickly become a favorite  activity for our congregants. In addition, she introduced the Artist-in-Residence program and the Mitzvah Day Family Concert which brings joy to all the generations of our congregation.

With her creativity and dynamic personality, Cantor Sharett-Singer instantly connects with congregants of all ages. With her guitar, Chocolate, Cantor Sharett-Singer has revised and transformed our Tot Shabbat, which today is a spirited and fun-filled service. Further, her  development of a vibrant music curriculum for our religious school children instills love of Jewish values from an early age.

Her favorite aspects of serving as our cantor are fostering congregational singing and working  with the B’nai Mitzvah students. Cantor Sharett-Singer feels that there is no greater fulfillment than connecting her students to the love of Torah, God and Israel.

Cantor Sharett-Singer is married to Jonathan Singer, and together they are the proud parents of Amit, Noa and Emmanuelle. Our cantor enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling to Israel, listening to – and playing – music, being close to nature and enjoying good food.

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Judith S. Lewis, Rabbi Emerita, D.D.

Gala 2Rabbi Judith S. Lewis became the rabbi of Riverdale Temple in the summer of 2006, after having served for 14 years as the Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel of the City of New York. She began her tenure at Temple Israel as the Director of Education for six years.

Rabbi Lewis celebrated her 25th year in the rabbinate in 2005, earning an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, where she was ordained in 1980. She was part of the first generation of women rabbis, becoming ordained at a time when there were fewer than a dozen women in the Reform rabbinate. Her undergraduate degree was in Philosophy, from Oberlin College in Ohio.

Upon her retirement in 2015, after serving Riverdale Temple for nine years and 35 years in the rabbinate, Rabbi Lewis has been named Rabbi Emerita.

Stephen D. Franklin, Rabbi Emeritus, D.D., D.H.L.

rabbi stephen franklin emeritusRabbi Stephen D. Franklin assumed the post of Rabbi of Riverdale Temple on July 1, 1979. He was graduated as a member of Phi Beta Kappa, cum laude, with honors in English when he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Williams College in 1963. Obtaining rabbinical ordination, as well as the Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, the rabbi also did supplementary work at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Before coming to Riverdale he was a Navy Chaplain, serving at The Great Lakes Naval Training Center and at Camp Lejeune with the Marines; from there he was assigned to a battalion landing team with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. There followed six years as Assistant and then Associate Rabbi of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto and two years as Associate Rabbi of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park (Philadelphia), Pennsylvania. Rabbi Franklin is a Past President of the local Interfaith Clergy Conference and President of the Greater New York Area Reform Rabbis. After serving Riverdale temple for 24 years, Rabbi Franklin became Rabbi Emeritus in 2003.

Charles E. Shulman, Rabbi Emeritus, D.D.

Rabbi Charles Shulman studied at the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio from 1922–27 and was ordained as a Reform rabbi in 1927. His first long-term tenure as rabbi was at the North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, Illinois. Under his leadership there, the membership quadrupled and grew to be one of the leading Jewish congregations in the United States. He developed forums, lectures and inter-faith activities devoted to promotion of better citizenship and spiritual and intellectual advancement. At age 34, he was the youngest reform rabbi to be listed in the Who’s Who in America.

He sought to establish and to provide an intellectual understanding of the religion. He desired to make it exciting and challenging and democratic. “The people must feel they are sharing in it. They must be excited by the aesthetic beauty of it, by the beauty of the music, by the originality with which religion is presented. ” And of course he also wanted a congregation that would support the new State of Israel.

Thus he decided to move to New York where a group of 25 families in the Riverdale area of the Bronx were seeking a rabbi. During the first year 1947–48, as our founding rabbi he grew the congregation from 25 families to 250 and to more than 1000 at the close of his life in 1968.  Shulman addressed numerous groups around the country and made frequent national radio and television broadcasts. He also participated extensively in Jewish and inter-faith educational programs and became a nation-wide lecturer for Zionist causes. His oral addresses, articles and book reviews, numbering well over 1000, have been published in the Congressional Record as well as in religious and other journals. The original diaries and copies of all are located in the Jacob Radar Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, Ohio. (wikipedia)