Rabbi Jay C. Perlman
Rabbi 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 served as president. He currently serves on the New England Regional Board of the Anti-Defamation League. Rabbi Perlman has served on the faculty at the Union for Reform Judaism’s Camp Eisner and 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. Rabbi Perlman regular teaches 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.
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 created 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.
Rabbi Julie Bressler
Rabbi Julie Bressler serves as the Assistant Rabbi at Temple Beth Shalom. She is thrilled to join this enthusiastic, committed, and caring community!
In May 2019, Rabbi Bressler earned her ordination from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles and also received a Master of Arts in Jewish Education from HUC in 2017. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Rabbi Bressler grew up in the Reform movement as an active member of Temple Isaiah in Lafayette, CA, a camper at URJ Camp Newman, and NFTY teen program participant. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in Women and Gender Studies and American Culture Studies. Before attending rabbinical school, Rabbi Bressler worked as a youth and teen programming professional in St. Louis and the Bay Area.
As a rabbinic and education student, Rabbi Bressler served several communities throughout California – Congregation Shir Ami in Castro Valley, Congregation Or Ami in Calabasas, and Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills. She also spent four summers on senior staff at URJ Camp Newman and served as a Chaplain Intern at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. In these capacities, Rabbi Bressler led services, officiated life cycle events, supervised teachers and staff, and developed curricula for family education and camp programs and trainings. Additionally, she guided HUC Los Angeles through a process of re-evaluating and re-visioning their sexual harassment policies and the gender-based experiences of students and staff.
Rabbi Bressler is a passionate teacher, community builder, and social justice advocate. She enjoys supporting others through their Jewish journeys, sharing the power of Jewish tradition, and asking and discussing big questions.
Rabbi 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.
Daniel ("D.J.") Fortine is thrilled to serve as Cantorial Soloist at TBS. 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. 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.
D.J. will work along with Rabbi Perlman and Rabbi Markley in creating moving and spirited Shabbat services throughout the year. In addition, D.J. 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.
Emily Perlman is proud to be one of Temple Beth Shalom’s soloists and lead services alongside her husband, Rabbi Jay! Her primary responsibility is coordinating and leading the music for the monthly “Simchat Shabbat” services on the first Friday of every month. She collaborates with the rabbis and Maple Street Project (a band made up of 5 talented congregants) to create a rich, participatory musical experience filled with festive melodies, beautiful harmonies, and a joyous spirit. Emily also directs both the TBS Youth Choir and Teen Choir, which participate monthly at the “Simchat Shabbat” services. In addition, Emily occasionally serves as the soloist or co-soloist at Shabbat morning services.
Emily brings to TBS a passion for Jewish music, over 20 years of summer camp and youth group song leading experience, and a degree in early childhood education from Tufts University. Emily also has earned certification in music education. She plays guitar, piano and recorder, and has loved to sing her entire life.
As a soloist, “rebbitzen” and mom to Liana and Jonah, Emily happily calls Temple Beth Shalom her second home!