Who's Who: Clergy

Clergy : Rabbi Jay C. Perlman

Rabbi PerlmanRabbi Jay Perlman is a Senior Rabbi at Temple Beth Shalom. Since his arrival in Needham in the summer of 2003, Rabbi Perlman has been dedicated to nurturing a warm, vibrant, spiritually meaningful community. He is proud to share in this sacred service with many outstanding clergy, professional, and lay leaders.

Rabbi Perlman is active in both the Needham and the Greater Boston Jewish community. He is an active member of the Needham Clergy Association, including having recently served as president. He currently serves on the New England Regional Board of the Anti-Defamation League. He frequently dedicates two weeks during summer to serve on the faculty at the Union for Reform Judaism’s Camp Eisner. Rabbi Perlman has served as a rabbinic mentor for both the Hebrew College Rabbinic Program and the rabbinical school at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. He is a regular teacher for the URJ’s “Taste of Judaism” and “Introduction to Judaism” programs and is a member of the Needham Coalition for Suicide Prevention. 

Before coming to the Boston area, Rabbi Perlman served at Congregation Shaare Emeth in St. Louis, MO. While there, he was awarded UJA Federation’s Rabbinic Award for outstanding community leadership. Rabbi Perlman was active in the development of innovative worship experiences, creative youth programming, and in working with the St. Louis Jewish deaf community. In addition, Rabbi Perlman was the founding Rabbinic Director of the Fleischer Jewish Healing Center of St. Louis. 

Rabbi Perlman was ordained from the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in New York in 1996. While at HUC, he was the recipient of a number of academic awards, including his selection as a Steinhardt Scholar for his work in informal education. 

Rabbi Perlman is originally from the Boston area. He is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Brandeis University, where he received his B.A. in both History and Near East and Judaic Studies. Rabbi Perlman has participated in numerous study opportunities in Israel, including programs at the Hartman Institute, the Conservative Yeshiva, the Pardes Institute, Hebrew University, and through the World Zionist Organization. 

Rabbi Perlman has a passion for teaching, learning, building bridges, and sharing the beauty of our Jewish tradition. He joyfully shares his life with his wife, Emily, and their children Liana and Jonah.

Clergy : Rabbi Todd A. Markley

Rabbi Todd Markley joined Temple Beth Shalom in the summer of 2006 as our first Assistant Rabbi and now serves our community as a Senior Rabbi. In May of 2006 he completed his studies at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, receiving a Master of Arts in Jewish Education in addition to his rabbinical ordination. A native of Connecticut, Rabbi Markley was an active youth leader in the North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) before attending Tufts University where he studied Psychology and Judaic Studies. He has outstanding teaching skills and has worked with students of all ages. He also has extensive experience in Jewish youth work and Jewish camping, regularly continuing to serve on the faculties of the Union for Reform Judaism's Crane Lake and Eisner Camps. 

Rabbi Markley shares in the spiritual leadership of Temple Beth Shalom by participating in worship, by officiating at life cycle events, and through his pastoral presence with our families. While he serves as rabbi to all segments of our congregation, he has played key roles in the transformation of our youth programs for students in grades 6-12, helping to make their learning more experiential by including retreats at camp and travel opportunities, in addition to our many newly create options for teens to engage in Jewish life. He is now focusing on our Kindergarten-5th grade programs as the leader of our Partnership in Experiential Learning with Combined Jewish Philanthropies and Brandeis University's department of Innovations in Jewish Education.  He is working closely with all of our education professionals to oversee the learning programs from our youngest students through our teens and adults as well.  So too, Rabbi Markley is engaged in a number of efforts to deepen and enrich the connections among our synagogue members, fostering stronger and more meaningful relationships within our temple community.  Rabbi Markley is proud to serve on an alumni advisory council to the President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and on the board of the Rashi School as well.

Rabbi Markley is married to Michele, a native of Lexington, who works as a third and fourth grade special education teacher in Belmont. Together they are blessed to be raising their daughter, Mia and their son Adam.

Clergy: Rabbi Jordi Schuster Battis - Director of Curriculum, K-12 Learning Programs
Rabbi Jordana Schuster Battis joined the TBS team in 2012. She was ordained at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles and holds a MA in Jewish Education from HUC, as well as a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and a BA from Williams College. In her role at Temple Beth Shalom, she brings her background of work in congregational, camp, and campus settings, to work closely with our community's educators, clergy, children, parents, and lay leaders as, together, we develop a rich and meaningful learning experience for our K-12 learners and their families. Originally from Claremont, CA, Rabbi Battis has lived, worked, and studied in places from Los Angeles to Jerusalem, Chicago to New Haven. She now lives (and intends to stay!) in Natick with her husband, Seth, and their sons, Gershom (Gersh) and Rachmael (Rocky).
Clergy : Rabbi Emeritus Rifat Sonsino

Rabbi Rifat Sonsino, Ph. D. was the Rabbi of Temple Beth Shalom from 1980 until his retirement in 2003. Born in Turkey, he obtained his law degree from the University of Istanbul (1959), his rabbinic education from the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati (1966) and his Ph. D. in Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies from the University of Pennsylvania (1975). He also received an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion in 1991. 

Before coming to Needham, he served congregations in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as well as Philadelphia and Chicago. 

He has authored a number of books and articles and has chaired various committees both regionally and nationally. 

Rabbi and Ines Sonsino have two children: Daniel Sonsino and his wife, Gabriela, and Deborah Seri. They are also the proud grandparents of Ariella and Dalia Sonsino, and Avi and Talya Seri.

Clergy : Daniel Fortine - TBS Cantorial Intern

Daniel ("D.J.") Fortine is our first ever TBS Cantorial Intern. A graduate of the University of Hartford's prestigious Hartt School of Music where he received his BA in Music and Judaic Studies, D.J. is a gifted musician, leader of song, and aspiring Cantor. As Cantorial Intern, D.J. brings the spirit and beauty of Jewish music to us. While attending the Hartt School, D.J.'s primary focus was on music theory, performance, and music education. His musical range is broad, as he has successfully shared song in settings as diverse as the congregational bima, the opera stage, the choir concert hall, a cappella group performances, and Jewish summer camp.

D.J. is skilled as both a guitar player and at the piano. He has served as the Head Song Leader at the Union for Reform Judaism's Eisner Camp in Great Barrington, MA. He has led congregational music at Temple Beth Hillel in South Windsor, CT and Congregation Beth Israel of West Hartford. He has served as Cantorial Soloist on the bima for Shabbat and holidays, led music for children and teens, and worked closely with Bar/Bat Mitzvah students.

D.J. will be joins Rabbi Perlman and Rabbi Markley in creating moving and spirited Shabbat services throughout the year. In addition, DJ creates new pathways for adult singing and opportunities to build upon the already strong musical culture at TBS. So too he creates relationships with our B'nei Mitzvah and their families as well as serving as a key member of our Mayim/Etzim Learning Team as he brings music to our community's children and teens.