Who We Are
Our story is best told by the deeds of all who have created a community with a vision and a mission that affirms our commitment to being “the little temple that makes a big difference.” Our commitment is to traditional Reform Jewish values and worship practices. Our liturgy is one that celebrates Hebrew prayer while inviting us to bring our own kavanot (intentions) to the experience, making it meaningful and relevant to each individual.
Our commitment is to the inclusion of all. Interfaith families and the “Jewish-adjacent,” LGBTQ+ and the differently-abled are not only welcomed but embraced.
What makes TBD so special is that we know that we are all in this together—at TBD the machers and the schleppers are one in the same. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. We have come a long way because of our continued dedication to that vision. Today our members live in Randolph, Braintree, Bridgewater, Brockton, Canton, Dedham, Easton, Foxboro, Hanson, Milton, Quincy, Sharon, Stoughton, Westwood, Weymouth, and more. We are a place where justice, faith, and wisdom are woven into our mission; our tapestry is beautiful and strong like a tallit that surrounds us in warmth and reminds us of God’s presence in everything we do. We are still “the little temple in the woods,” but the hearts and souls of our community are extra, extra large.
“Upon three things the world stands: On Torah, on divine service, and on deeds of loving-kindness.” (Pirkei Avot 1:2)
At Temple Beth David, we couldn’t agree more.
The truly righteous do not complain about evil, but rather add justice; they do not complain about heresy, but rather add faith; they do not complain about ignorance but rather add wisdom.” (Rav Abraham Isaac Kook)
We are committed to tikkun olam—repair of the world, with a long tradition of providing food, shelter, and financial support to our community and the greater community. In 2005, our temple was awarded the Irving J. Fein Award by the Religious Action Center of URJ for our ongoing work to support the homeless in greater Boston.
Our Commitment to Lifelong Learning
Our sixty-year history reveals an impressive array of world-renowned speakers, local dignitaries, leaders in Jewish scholarship, environmental issues, social justice concerns, and just plain interesting folk! In 2005, we were among three synagogues selected to participate in CJP’s Leader Development Institute (LDI). For a full year, we worked as a community to articulate our mission, address our challenges, and work toward positive change while developing tools to support current and future leaders of our congregation to become effective leaders, not simply “managers.” Over the years, we have received several community grants from CJP. Our programs and scholar-in-residence Shabbatot over the years would impress even the largest shuls.
And our commitment is to each other. Just show up once to a Shabbat service and it is clear that we are the warm, heimish temple family that our founders envisioned all those years ago. We share in each other’s joys, and we comfort each other during our most difficult times. We have kvelled at the weddings and births of our friends here, and we have cried together at the most profound moments of loss. TBD is about us; we are a family in the most fundamental sense of the word. So many of us have been temple leaders—presidents, vice presidents, committee chairs, and board members—all who have willingly given hours of service.
Rabbi David Winship
Rabbi David Winship comes to our shul from Hebrew College in Newton, MA. Rabbi Winship grew up at Temple Israel in Boston and worked there for 14 years. Our rabbi truly believes in bringing the Jewish community together and has spent his life working in organizations that are affiliated with all of the different movements. Before coming to us he served as the head of an Orthodox day camp, the head of Adult Education at a large Reform congregation, the head teacher in many area Hebrew schools, and as the Rabbinic Intern for both the Jewish Discovery Institute and at Beth El Temple, a large Conservative synagogue in Connecticut. Rabbi Winship is a lover of the outdoors and the Jewish people and is excited to bring both of those passions to Temple Beth David.
Come in and meet our Rabbi! He can always be found sitting somewhere with a book or walking around spreading the joy of Judaism and the stories of our people.
Cantor Maayan Harel
Cantor Maayan Harel is extremely excited to become a part of the Temple Beth David community! She was ordained in June 2019 from Hebrew College in Newton, MA, from where she also received her Master’s in Jewish Education.
Maayan grew up in Rhode Island before attending The Hartt School of Music in West Hartford, CT, where she studied voice/opera. She has been a cantor and a b’nei mitzvah educator at several communities in the Greater Boston area.
Music is a universal language which inspires all of us.Singing together in the temple allows us to be lifted from everyday life, and to experience spirituality. She is looking forward to making music with all of you, and to bringing our voices together in harmony.
Maayan, the youngest of three siblings, is blessed to have four nieces and two nephews. Maayan has a goldendoodle named Ollie who loves to swim in the neighboring Ponkapoag Pond, followed by a nice hike through Blue Hills.
Cantor Emeritus Howard Worona
Howard L. Worona retired in the spring of 2020 after serving Temple Beth David of the South Shore as Cantorial Soloist and Music Director since 1984. His musical repertoire spans a wide range of Jewish musical styles from traditional chazanut to the music of Debbie Friedman, Craig Taubman and other contemporary composers of Jewish music. Howard led the congregation in song to spirited guitar accompaniment and directed the Adult Choir for High Holy Day Services and for special Friday evening services and teaches music to the children in the religious school.
In addition to his work at TBD, Howard also retired from his roles as Music Director at Hanscom Middle School on the Hanscom Air Force Base and Director of the Hanscom and Lincoln After School Music Programs. He also served on the Executive Board of the Eastern District of the Massachusetts Music Educators Association where he was a founding member.
Howard’s musical and personal contributions to the Temple Beth David Family can not be overstated. We will miss him and wish him nothing but the best on his well-earned retirement!
Marilyn Whipple, Temple President
Marilyn has been a devoted member of TBD since 1987. She has served on the Temple Board and Executive Committee and has been involved in every aspect of Temple life. As a 30-year choir member, Marilyn believes that music is central to the worship experience at Temple Beth David and recently co-chaired the cantorial Search Committee that brought Cantor Maayan Harel to TBD.
Recently retired from a 35-year career in marketing, Marilyn brings business and communications expertise to her volunteer role as Temple President. She is extraordinarily grateful for all of the learning and experience shared with her by Joni Block and other past Presidents and for the time, energy and dedication of the Executive Committee, committee chairs and all of the amazing volunteers for which TBD is so well known.
Marilyn lives in the south shore area with her husband, Mark, a retired public school teacher, and their cat, Luna.
Andrea Star, Temple Administration
A native of Boston, Andrea Star has fond memories of growing up at TBD. She holds a Master’s degree in Psychology and has had quite an eclectic work history: The bulk of her professional career was spent in mental health doing both outreach and management. Some of those years were spent on air doing a radio show and she also ran a temple office for four years in Brockton. Andrea is the proud mother of two daughters; one is a math teacher in Ft. Lauderdale FL and the other is a baby nurse and sleep trainer as well as being the mother to Levi Charles Star. Andrea is delighted to be back “home” at TBD. Andrea can be found in the temple office Wednesdays and Thursdays and can be reached by calling the temple office, stopping in or by email.
“And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.” (Exodus 25)
In 1959, a small group of Jewish families from Randolph, Canton and surrounding towns met together and decided that they wanted a place to pray that was warm and heimish, a place with liberal values but with a sense of Jewish tradition that would allow their children to grow up knowing who they are as Jews but not feeling the restrictions that a more observant Jewish lifestyle required. They had a vision for a traditional Reform synagogue that would be the perfect place for their families to grow, pray, and learn. In 1961, a charter was recorded and Temple Beth David of the South Shore was born. The early days were filled with hopes, dreams, and hard work. And as this vision became a reality, TBD soon became a small but vibrant community.
Without a building to call our own, we began meeting in various venues: people’s living rooms, a church basement, a daycare center in Holbrook, and even above an ice-cream parlor in Canton. But our founding members soon moved to a parcel of land in Canton just over the Randolph line nestled in the Blue Hills by the shores of Ponkapog Pond. The property had a small wooden house for families to meet, study, and pray. In 1964, the small house was torn down to make way for a new brick building, built with the future in mind, with classrooms, a sanctuary that doubled as a social hall, and a commercial kitchen. The design allowed for an addition to be built when the community was ready to grow into it, which indeed happened in 1986 and expanded again in 1990.
In 2010, our community dedicated Rosie’s Garden, turning our large backyard into a beautiful space with trees, plants, and places to sit, read, or just be—a space to remember a young member of our community whose life was tragically cut short. The garden is a living reminder of Rosie’s life, her parents’ and grandparents’ place in our community, and just how special the physical space is to us. At TBD the mundane becomes the holy with a commitment and dedication that, as much as anything else, tells the story of who we were and who we have become.
Our Rabbinic History
Our growth as a thriving Reform Jewish community story can be told through the rabbis who have served us. In those early years, part-time rabbis Al Axelrod, Norman Mirsky, Daniel Polish, and Marc Saperstein came to lead Erev Shabbat and High Holy Day services.
Rabbi Saperstein, our last part-time rabbi, served Temple Beth David for thirteen years while commuting from Cambridge, where he simultaneously earned his PhD at Harvard and then taught on its faculty, holding the first regular faculty position in Jewish Studies at the Harvard Divinity School. Rabbi Saperstein also served as principal of our Hebrew and Religious School, as well as taught courses on Jewish texts to our members.
In 1986, we were ready for another milestone: the hiring of a full-time rabbi. Our first full-time rabbi was a young woman who could easily pass for one of the students—until she stood on the bimah. It then became very clear that here was an articulate and wise powerhouse, a rabbi who had a vision for what a Reform congregation could be and the skills to make it happen. Rabbi Elyse Goldstein brought regular Shabbat morning services, a thriving school, serious adult educational programs, and a commitment to social justice to TBD, and we have never looked back! After five years, Rabbi Goldstein moved to Toronto to become the director of Kolel: Adult Center for Liberal Jewish Learning.
In 1991, we welcomed Rabbi Neil Kominsky, who was with us for the next four years and continued many of the programs that were already in place. He is best remembered for his gentle manner, wisdom, humility, and ardent scholarship. Our next rabbi was Michal Shekel. Rabbi Shekel was just settling in, but after two years her family situation required her and her family to move to Toronto. But her two short years with us were good years, and we continued to grow in strength and commitment to our vision. For the next year, we were fortunate to have rabbinic intern Tom Alpert, who spent much of the year with us while continuing his studies at HUC. Tom graciously stepped up to keep TBD healthy and solid. It was a year of coming together as a community in a less than perfect situation but showed all of us just how much we care about each other and how willing we were to “pitch in” to make it a successful year.
In 1998 we welcomed Rabbi Dan Judson, who came to TBD as a very young man, recently ordained and engaged to be married. Although only twenty-eight years old, Rabbi Judson’s wisdom was decades beyond his chronological age. He brought a sense of humor and an ability to gently guide us with wisdom and compassion. Rabbi Judson led this congregation for ten years, including a one-year leave to study at Harvard as a Fellow. In his absence, we were fortunate to have the leadership of interim Rabbi Deana Douglas. Her maturity, warmth, and extensive experience in the field of education made her a wonderful match for us. After ten years, Rabbi Judson (now married and father of three) was ready to move on, pursuing his doctorate at Brandeis University and currently serving as Dean of the Rabbinical School at Hebrew College.
In July of 2008, Rabbi Allison Berry became our rabbi. Our children fell in love with her kind and intuitive ways, filling our sanctuary at family services and looking forward to Hebrew School. Rabbi Berry’s sensitivity, imagination, and good sense brought new life to our Confirmation program, as well. She instituted new approaches and liturgy at services, where her voice was a beautiful complement to that of Cantorial Soloist Howard Worona.
In 2011, Rabbi Berry departed Temple Beth David to devote more time to her growing family. We then welcomed Rabbi Sue Ann Wasserman to be the interim Spiritual Leader of TBD. Rabbi Wasserman, an experienced rabbi with a broad base of congregational and URJ administrative experience, served the congregation for approximately a year.
In 2012, the “Canadian Connection” once again arrived at Temple Beth David when Rabbi Emma Gottlieb, a native of Toronto, became the spiritual leader of our congregation. Rabbi Gottlieb was ordained at the Hebrew Union College, New York campus, in 2010. She previously served at Rabbi of Temple Beth Israel in Plattsburgh, NY. As our first guitar-playing rabbi, she brought with her an intense belief in music as an integral part of the worship service, complementing Cantorial Soloist Howard Worona in the area of sacred and inspirational liturgical songs.
When the complexities of being a Canadian working in the U.S. required Rabbi Gottlieb to return to Canada in 2015, we were fortunate to once again call on the services of Sue Ann Wasserman to serve as interim Rabbi for one year.
Rabbi David Winship joined our family in 2017. Read more about him here.
Spirituality Through Music
The story of our spiritual leadership would not be complete without a tribute to Cantorial Soloist Howard Worona, who joined our family in 1984. And what a remarkable move that turned out to be! Little did we know that Howard would become such an important part of our community. Thirty-five years later, Howard is still a central part of the spiritual life of all of us at TBD. He has allowed our community to come alive with joy and song. It would be impossible to tell our story without Howard and impossible to measure the positive impact he continues make here.
Our Greatest Wish
At Temple Beth David one thing matters above all else, our Temple family. We eat together, pray together, laugh and cry together, grow together and live our lives together. Our greatest wish is for our home, our little Temple in the woods, to continue to serve as a center for Jewish life and growth for generation after generation of Jews on the South Shore. Come see what lies at the heart of our community and the love that energizes us.