Updated: Sep 4
Temple Israel of West Palm Beach's new co-senior rabbis and husband and wife, Ryan and Carlie Daniels. [Photo by Temple Israel]
Temple Israel of West Palm Beach, a century old this year, has appointed husband and wife Ryan and Carlie Daniels as co-senior rabbis. It’s the first such pastoral partnership among Palm Beach County’s nearly 40 Jewish congregations.
Their inaugural worship service at Temple Israel was Friday, July 7. Before Temple Israel, the rabbis held positions at different synagogues in the Chicago area.
Rabbi Carlie grew up in Rockledge, near Cocoa Beach. Coming from an interfaith family and going to school with only one or two other Jewish students, she valued acceptance in the community and was inspired to pursue a role in Judaic leadership.
Graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in music, she considered becoming a cantor but instead decided to be a rabbi. She studied at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where she met fellow first-year rabbinic student Ryan.
Ryan earned an undergraduate degree at the University at Buffalo. He was raised in a vibrant Jewish household and community in Queens, N.Y., and had a lifelong desire to be a rabbi.
The two married in 2014 and were ordained in 2015. “What we hope to bring to Temple Israel and the local community is relevancy,” the rabbis said in a joint statement. “We want to exemplify what authentic Jewish family life is about, embracing connections with one another, bringing awareness to the power of partnerships, and inspiring others to accept a culture of inclusion.”
Temple Israel Co-President Charles Eaton says the hiring of the rabbis is something of a coup. “When we began our search a year ago for a senior rabbi, we were forewarned that there actually is a shortage of ordained rabbis — the demand is greater than the supply — and there’s a steep decline in student enrollment. So we were uncertain we’d even find a candidate to interview. Yet here we are now with two exceptionally qualified individuals who check all the boxes of what we expect from our leadership.”
Martin List, the temple’s other co-president, said the rabbis impressed by meeting the challenges of the pandemic with innovative programs. “They succeeded in keeping their members fully engaged during the most trying time, and they are driven to achieve comparable results for Temple Israel by building a strong community outside the walls of the temple as well as within. They are passionate advocates for social action, cultural initiatives, and enhanced religious school and teen experiences. They are in sync with our vision for the future of Temple Israel, and we are enormously privileged that they’ve accepted to join us.”
The Danielses have two young daughters and now live in Palm Beach Gardens.