Rabbi Joshua Ben-Gideon
From being unaffiliated as a child to being very active in NFTY (Reform youth group) in high school, to becoming a rabbinical student, first in the Reform movement and then at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Rabbi Joshua Ben-Gideon has had a unique journey to the rabbinate.
Prior to Beth David, Rabbi Ben-Gideon was the spiritual leader of Beth Israel Center (BIC) in Madison, Wisconsin. In his almost nine years at BIC, he created opportunities for community members to engage with tradition, with synagogue life and with one another.
“Torah is the primary lens through which I understand my life. It is a joy to explore with my community how Jewish wisdom can guide and enrich our lives,” he says.
Teaching classic Jewish texts and helping his congregation to connect with and be inspired by prayer are central to his rabbinate. Rabbi Ben-Gideon teaches about the origins of our liturgy and the ancient wisdom we can find within our prayers, while sharing his own experience of being inspired by the words of our siddur and mahzor. He has also introduced new approaches to prayer like mindfulness and meditation to the communities he has served, and has enlivened services through new melodies and programs to enhance the musicality of the community. He is especially proud of how many of the students he works with one-on-one lead musaf or shacharit at their bar or bat mitzvah—and of how many of them continue to do so after their celebration.
Rabbi Ben-Gideon worked with synagogue leadership in Madison to develop a communal vision and then to bring this vision to life through strategic planning. Visionary leadership is one way in which he helped BIC complete a five-million-dollar renovation.
He decided to become a rabbi based upon the advice of a mentor to choose a profession where he felt he could contribute something no one else could. This advice helped him realize that his professional future would be in Jewish life. The opportunity to care for people during challenging times, to be present with them in grief and to celebrate with them and enrich the joy of happy moments are at the core of what called him to become a rabbi.
Rabbi Ben-Gideon began his rabbinic career in Fairfax, Virginia at Congregation Olam Tikvah. There, he enjoyed teaching on Shabbat morning and developing innovative adult education programs centered on making worship accessible and meaningful. Creating a young fathers’ group (ABBA), teaching at Greenspring Senior Residence, and re-invigorating the USY youth group program were among his favorite projects.
He has a strong commitment to ongoing rabbinic education and professional development. He participates in the Rabbinic Training Institute every winter, studying with world class faculty from the Jewish Theological Seminary (his alma matter) and from around the world. He was also selected to be a member of two professional development seminars: ReNEWed Jewish Leadership with faculty from the Kellogg School of Business and STAR:PEER program, a one-year seminar directed at the professional development of recently ordained rabbis.
His wife and study partner, Rebecca, is also a rabbi. They have three children, twins Lena and Vered (14) and son Noam (10). When not at shul or with his family, you can often find him on the country roads around Greensboro on his bicycle.