Temple Ohav Shalom (TOS) in Allison Park has retained Rabbi Danny Schiff to serve as the congregation’s rabbi from Aug. 29 through Oct. 15.
Schiff will be replacing Rabbi Art Donsky, who recently announced that he would be retiring from TOS at the end of June.
Schiff will assume all rabbinic responsibilities at TOS, including officiating at all holiday and Shabbat services, pastoral care, life cycle events and oversight of the religious school.
The congregation plans to hire an interim rabbi following Schiff’s departure in October to serve for several months, and hopes to have a new permanent rabbi in place by next summer, according to TOS President Ken Eisner.
Schiff, who now lives in Jerusalem with his wife Anne and two children, served for 16 years as the Agency for Jewish Learning’s community scholar, and was the rabbi at Temple B’nai Israel in White Oak. He left Pittsburgh with his family in 2009 to make aliya, and is currently working on a new Jewish museum concept.
Schiff is no stranger to TOS, having taught adult education classes there, and having worked with its board of directors on leadership training. He has also spoken from the TOS bima a number of times.
Schiff said he was looking forward to coming back to Pittsburgh.
“Since moving to Israel, I have been in Pittsburgh on a number of occasions for special educational opportunities,” Schiff wrote in an email to the Chronicle. “I always love coming back to Pittsburgh because I feel like I am traveling from one hometown to another. This opportunity will be special because it is the first time that I will be back for the Yamim Nora’im. It is a serious, uplifting, and moving time of the year, and I am really looking forward to beginning 5774 in the midst of a wonderful community that I know is thoroughly dedicated to the Jewish future.”
Having lived in Israel has given him a profound appreciation for the Jewish state.
“I now understand viscerally what I once only grasped intellectually: that we are living at a miraculous juncture in Jewish history, that each one of us is extraordinarily privileged to see Jewish sovereignty thrive in the land of Israel within our lifetimes, and that – despite all the difficulties and profound challenges — Israel is an amazing success of which we should all be tremendously proud,” he wrote.
TOS president Eisner equated getting Schiff to lead the congregation following Donsky’s departure with the Pittsburgh Penguins drafting Sidney Crosby when the team was at a low point.
“Getting Rabbi Schiff to come to officiate is a wonderful opportunity for Temple Ohav Shalom,” Eisner said. “Losing a rabbi after 16 years is traumatic. Rabbi Schiff is obviously a wonderful rabbi, and engaging, and I think he’ll be a tremendous help in our transition period.”
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)