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Rabbi Matt Berger

A native of New England and an avid Boston Red Sox fan, Rabbi Matt Berger attended Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He was ordained as a rabbi by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio. He received a Master of Arts in Education with Jewish Specialization from Xavier University in Cincinnati the same year. Since 2003, Rabbi Berger has served Reform congregations in Illinois, Massachusetts, and Texas.

Rabbi Berger is an accomplished musician who loves to sing and play guitar. Some of his hobbies include reading, swimming, and bicycling. He enjoys teaching both children and adults. He is passionate about sharing his love for Israel. He believes in the prophetic call for social justice. He regularly serves as faculty at the Union for Reform Judaism’s summer camps.

Rabbi Berger is honored to lead Temple Ahavat Shalom. “It is a true blessing to be a part of this congregational family and follow in Rabbi Klein's footsteps. I hope to empower individuals, lift people’s spirits, and share the voice and joy of liberal Judaism.”

Rabbi is blessed to share his life with his spouse, Ida, and their two children, Avi and Meital. Moving closer to family in sunny Florida has been a long-awaited dream.

Rabbi Gary Klein, Rabbi Emeritus


A Message from Rabbi Emeritus Gary Klein

Judaism can be a very powerful force for good in our lives and in the world. Through the teachings, customs, and historical narratives found in its sacred literature, Judaism can enhance our ethical consciousness and nurture our compassion. It can also help us become more appreciative of the important experiences and people in our lives. This appreciation increases the joy we experience during happy times and softens the pain that sadness brings.

A Jewish congregation should nurture this process. It should also be a second home for every member and it should enhance the pride we feel in being Jews. Our congregation attempts to fulfill these goals by joining with our fellow-members in worship, celebration, study and deeds of service to the Jewish and general communities. We hope you will join us in our shared endeavor. 

Biography     

Rabbi Gary Klein currently serves as the Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Ahavat Shalom of Palm Harbor, Florida, after leading the congregation for over 30 years.  Temple Ahavat Shalom is a congregation of approximately 475 households that serves Northern Pinellas, Southwest Pasco and Western Hillsborough Counties, Florida.

Prior to assuming the pulpit of Temple Ahavat Shalom, Rabbi Klein served for nine years as spiritual leader of Temple Beth Israel, Altoona, PA. Before moving to Altoona, he served for three years as Assistant Rabbi and Director of Education and Youth Programming at Temple Anshe Sholom, Olympia Fields, IL.

A native of Lakewood, NJ, Rabbi Klein attended public schools there. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from the University of Cincinnati which he obtained in 1971; and a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion which he received in 1973. He obtained Rabbinic Ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1975 and was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in March 2000. He also participated in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Overseas Students Program, having studied in Israel during the academic year 1969-1970.

In the Tampa Bay area, Rabbi Klein serves as the Secretary of Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services, an organization with which he has been very involved for many years. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Center for Catholic Jewish Studies at St. Leo University. He has also served on the Mease Hospital Ethics Committee, the Board of Directors of the Long Center and the Board of Directors of the Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce. He has served as President of the Pinellas County Board of Rabbis and he was one of the 1988-1989 designees for Leadership Pinellas.

In Altoona, Rabbi Klein served as Treasurer of the Altoona Hospital, Chairman of the Board of the Altoona Community Mental Health Center and Vice President of Family and Children’s Services of Blair County, Pennsylvania.

Since coming to Pinellas County, Florida in 1987, Rabbi Klein has served on the Board of the St. Leo University Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies, and for 21 years on the Board of Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services, where he held positions as Secretary, Treasurer and Vice Chair. Rabbi Klein also recently completed several terms on the Board of Directors of the Innocence Project of Florida, an organization which works to obtain exoneration for innocent people who have been unjustly convicted of serious crimes.

Currently, Rabbi Klein serves on the National Council of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. He has been a life-long activist on behalf of the mutually beneficial alliance between the United States and Israel.

Rabbi Klein and his wife, Ilene, are parents of two grown children, Sara and Jeffrey. Sara is married to Cantor Marshall Kapell.

 

Allison Rosoff, Senior Cantorial Soloist

Allison Rosoff has been serving as Temple Ahavat Shalom’s Senior Cantorial Soloist since 2016. She has a deep-rooted connection to the Jewish religion with a strong desire to comfort and inspire others through music and prayer. Allison’s musical journey began at a young age where she developed a love for Broadway and Jewish music. She was trained in voice at Florida State University and then transferred to the University of Central Florida where she received her BA in journalism. Throughout the course of her musical career, Allison has had the opportunity to sing the National Anthem for The Florida Panthers, Orlando Magic, Tampa Bay Rays, International Polo Club, APAC and other notable organizations. Additionally, she has worked in the field of advertising and marketing for more than 20 years and most recently served as Group Brand Director for a leading advertising agency where she helped to develop marketing, advertising, public relations campaigns and strategies for some of the largest homebuilders and developers in the nation.

Allison loves spending time with her incredible family including her husband Jeremy and their two young children.

Michelle McNicholas, Assistant Cantorial Soloist


Michelle has been singing and dancing since she was very young. She studied ballet and piano as a child and began singing in her middle school chorus. Michelle went to Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, New York, a school for fine arts. where she was a member of the school’s Gospel Choir. Michelle was a member of the Clearwater Chorus, where she performed solos. Michelle became Assistant Cantorial Soloist for the Temple in 2017, after singing in the choir since 2005. For several years, Michelle has been singing at Faith United Church of Christ in Dunedin. She is the soprano section leader in their choir and is also their soloist.

Michelle loves performing in musical theatre productions. Her first theatrical performance was in high school, and she has been in four productions here at Clearwater’s Francis Wilson Playhouse. Michelle has studied ballroom dancing and has won awards. Michelle studied Yoga and “Yoga Dance” and is a certified Yoga teacher. She plays the piano, loves horseback riding and exercising. Michelle especially loves animals and had been a volunteer at an animal shelter and is a pet sitter. Michelle especially loves singing here at the Temple and working with Rabbi Matt Berger and our Cantorial Soloist, Allison Rosoff.

Joy Katzen-Guthrie, Accompanist


A Message from Rabbi Emeritus Gary Klein

Composer-lyricist, pianist-vocalist, and concert artist, and cantorial leader Joy Katzen-Guthrie’s vibrant recordings and performances have inspired congregations and audiences of all ages for 40 years. A Memphis, TN native, Joy’s home has been the Tampa Bay Area since 1981 as a concert/recording artist, adult learning instructor, and speaker with a repertoire of thousands of compositions and catalog of over 150 lifelong learning courses in music, biography, entertainment, history, culture, arts, and spirituality.

Joy’s versatile career additionally includes broadcaster, voiceover artist, and heritage tour leader. She has self-published 14 recordings and contributed original songs to congregational music publications. From Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri she graduated with BA (Broadcast Communications) and BFA (music) degrees magna cum laude and cum laude. In June 2019, Joy took over as volunteer Programmer/Host of Tampa Bay’s longtime (42+ years) community radio broadcast, The Sunday Simcha on Tampa’s WMNF 88.5 and in August 2019 was named WMNF’s 2019 New Programmer of the Year. Since 2020, she has served the Palm Harbor Historical Society and Museum as administrative associate/program coordinator.

Lay Leadership

Officers and Board of Directors 2021-2022

Paula Rosoff President
Steve Sussner Treasurer
Don Hirschman Secretary
Penny Barna Director
David Bild Director
Eve Goldstein Director
Steven Konigsberg     Director
Jorie Massarsky Director
Ava Pierce Director
Bill Ross Director, Social Action Committee Co-Chair
Ellen Weiss Director
Tara Boyle Sisterhood Co-President
Jody Sherman Sisterhood Co-President
David Chazen Brotherhood Co-President
Jeff Greenberg Brotherhood Co-President
Maia Hermann Social Action Committee Co-Chair
Rabbi Matt Berger Rabbi
Tue, April 23 2024 15 Nisan 5784