Religions and Spirituality

TAPinto Franklin Township Meet the Leaders Series: Rabbi Eli L. Garfinkel

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Rabbi Eli L. Garfinkel at Temple Beth El of Somerset hosting Prayer of Solidarity and Brotherhood Credits: Malik Lyons
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FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, NJ - This year TAPinto Franklin Township will be running a series called "Meet The Leaders.” The objective is to provide our readers an opportunity to hear from Franklin Township’s leaders in government, public safety, education, houses of worship and other areas, regarding Franklin Township’s present and future outlook.  

Each participant was asked to share a little information about their background and personal life. Each “leader” was presented the same core questions that will be published unedited. 

TAPinto Franklin Township’s 14th leader interviewed was Rabbi Eli L. Garfinkel of Temple Beth El of Somerset. Garfinkel was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1999, and he served as an assistant rabbi in Toronto and Cincinnati. He became the spiritual leader of Temple Beth El in 2007. During his tenure at Temple Beth El, Garfinkel has started an annual Jewish film festival, organized communal Passover seders, and taught popular adult education courses.  

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Garfinkel has lived in Somerset for 12 years with his wife Naomi and twins Sari and Josh. 

Question: What initiative did you start in 2016 that you are most proud of?

Answer: In 2016, I started a weekly web video series called Gimme Some Torah.  In each episode, I present a three to five-minute lesson on the weekly Torah portion, usually with a focus on how the Torah's words are relevant to our everyday lives.  Gimme Some Torah is available on my Facebook page (Rabbi Eli Garfinkel).  It is also available on my YouTube channel, rabbigarfinkel.

Question: What will be your main objective for 2017?

Answer:  My main objective for 2017 will be to grow the Temple Beth El community and help it become even more vibrant.

Question: What do you feel will be Franklin Township's biggest challenge in 2017?

Answer: Education is the lifeblood of any community.  Excellent communities have excellent schools and students.  The biggest challenge that we face is how to make Franklin's schools even better than they already are. 

Question: What do you do in your spare time?

Answer: I work out and write iPhone apps.  My apps are available on the App Store under "Rabbi Eli Garfinkel."

Question: What are five words that describe Franklin Township?

Answer: Diverse, peaceful, neighborly, respectful, faithful

Garfinkel is the author of three books of biblical commentary that are used in Jewish summer camps throughout the country, and he currently serves as the president of the New Jersey Rabbinical Assembly. In his spare time, Rabbi Garfinkel writes iPhone apps.  

Garfinkel became a rabbi, "Because I love the Jewish people I know that is a strange answer for non-Jewish ears because we are all rightly taught that we should love everyone regardless of ethnicity, religion or other factors," Garfinkel said. "When I say I love the Jewish people I mean that I consider Jews to be my family in the literal sense.  The members of other religious and ethnic groups are my friends, but the Jews are my family.  I have the skills necessary to express and spread the love of God, Torah, and our people in accordance with our tradition.  These skills include writing, teaching, singing, homiletics and, above all else, listening to others.  I enjoy my work, and I, therefore, do not experience it as a burden but rather as a joy."

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