Rabbi Joshua Davidson, who has led Chappaqua’s Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester for the past 11 years, has been chosen to become the next senior rabbi at Manhattan’s Temple Emanu-El.
The appointment of Davidson, 45, was announced Wednesday by the president of the Fifth Avenue synagogue and on Thursday by Temple Beth El.
He will start his new job on July 1, pending approval by Temple Emanu-El’s board of trustees on May 30. It is one of the largest and most prestigious synagogues in the United States, with membership at about 2,000 families, many of them prominent.
“Temple Emanu-El has a dedicated and talented staff of Jewish clergy and Jewish professionals and it’s an honor to join their community of living and learning,” Davidson said.
Davidson, an Armonk resident since coming to Temple Beth El, helped oversee the congregation during its major expansion project a few years ago. Despite his pending ascension to one of the highest profile pulpits, he said it will be difficult leaving Chappaqua.
“I was blessed to lead an extraordinary congregation, to partner with the most wonderful group of lay leaders,” said Davidson, who will move to Manhattan with his wife, Mia Fram Davidson, associate cantor at Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, and their two young daughters. “It has been such a wonderful experience to be a part of their lives, both the joyful and the painful.”
Temple Beth El President Harry Cohen said that while Davidson’s departure will leave at least a temporary void, it is an honor for their congregation’s leader to be selected to serve at Temple Emanu-El.
“While we are saddened by the departure of a rabbi we have come to know and treasure, we will take great pride in knowing that one of our own will be ascending to one of the preeminent pulpits of American Judaism,” Cohen said in a statement on Thursday.
John Harrison Streicker, president at Temple Emanu-El, praised Davidson as the right choice to lead it congregation.
“He is a dynamic, engaged, compassionate and articulate leader who will embody the values and vision of Emanu-El,” Streicker said. “Rabbi Davidson is an ideal choice. He will both honor Emanu-El’s long and distinguished heritage as well as lead us to an even greater future.”
Davidson said Temple Beth El will be left in good hands. Congregational leadership at Temple Beth El will conduct a search for a permanent replacement. Until then, Alan Fuchs has been named interim rabbi for a year starting on July 1. Fuchs served as interim before Davidson was hired.
Fuchs will be joined by two new hires to the synagogue’s professional staff–Cantor Star Trompeter and Rabbi Maura Linzer. Associate Rabbi Geoffrey Mitelman, now in his sixth year, will continue in his role.
Davidson was born in Great Neck where his father, Jerome Davidson, served for many years at Temple Beth El of Great Neck and remains rabbi emeritus. A graduate of Princeton University, Davidson received a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles in 1995. Two years later he was ordained.
Prior to Temple Beth El, Davidson was assistant rabbi and then associate rabbi for five years at Central Synagogue in Manhattan.
During his time in Chappaqua, Davidson served as president of the Westchester Board of Rabbis and the Chappaqua Interfaith Council.