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Who's Who
Clergy/Worship Team
Clergy/Worship Team
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Senior Rabbi

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 and their children.

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Senior Rabbi

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.

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Rabbi Elyse Pincus Abrahams

Rabbi Elyse Pincus Abrahams was ordained at Hebrew College, and received both Rabbinic Ordination and a Master’s Degree in Jewish Education. During her time as a student, she served as Rabbinic Intern in both congregational and residential care settings, established and led a vibrant Women’s Study group, and completed a rigorous Clinical Pastoral Education program. Prior to beginning rabbinical school, she organized and led multiple Hillel Birthright Trips to Israel and served as a Jewish early childhood educator.

Rabbi Elyse is originally from Tucson, Arizona, and now lives in Natick with her husband, their son, and their dog Angel. In her free time she enjoys exploring local coffee shops, baking cookies, and spending time with her family.

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Rabbi Emeritus

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.

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Cantor Daniel Fortine

Cantor Daniel “DJ” Fortine has served Temple Beth Shalom since 2016 as a cantorial intern and soloist, and is thrilled (as of July 2022) to serve as our congregation’s full-time Cantor!


DJ earned his cantorial ordination and a Master’s degree in Jewish Studies from Hebrew College in May of 2022. During his cantorial school journey, DJ sang as a featured soloist with Boston’s foremost Jewish vocal ensembles, including the Zamir Chorale of Boston, Koleinu, and Hebrew College’s Kol Arev chamber choir.


Prior to his time at TBS and Hebrew College, DJ earned his bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Hartford’s Hartt School, where he performed principal roles in the Hartt Opera Theater’s main stage productions and sang in numerous vocal ensembles including the Hartt Chorale and L’Shir - the university’s premiere coed a cappella group.


DJ’s love for Jewish music was first cultivated at Temple Israel of New Rochelle, New York, where he spent his childhood years, and later at the URJ’s Eisner Camp, where he spent his summers song-leading and musicking in other various capacities from 2003-2017. DJ previously served as cantorial soloist at Congregation Beth Israel of West Hartford, Connecticut and

Temple Beth Hillel of South Windsor, Connecticut.


Cantor Fortine works along with Rabbi Perlman and Rabbi Markley in creating moving and spirited worship services throughout the year. As well, DJ creates new pathways for adult singing and builds upon the already strong musical culture at TBS. So too, he creates relationships with our B. Mitzvah students and their families, and serves as a key member of our Mayim/Etzim Learning Team as he brings music to our community’s children and teens.

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Cantorial Soloist

Emily Perlman

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,” Emily happily calls Temple Beth Shalom her second home! 

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