Rabbi Gutterman came to us from Temple B’rith Kodesh in Rochester, New York where she had been since her ordination from Hebrew Union College in 2004. She is, like Rabbi Asher, the child of a rabbi of long standing. Her father, Rabbi Leslie Gutterman, has been the rabbi of Temple Beth-El in Providence, Rhode Island for more than 40 years. We discovered during Rabbi Gutterman’s visit here that her father and our own Rayna Ravitz actually went to high school together a “few” years ago in Flint, Michigan.
At TBK, Rabbi Gutterman was very involved in every aspect of synagogue life – worship and life cycle, pastoral care, the religious school and youth activities, adult education, communal and interfaith activities, and working with younger members and young families. She developed innovative Shabbat worship including special music programs, a speaker’s series and different sermon formats, including congregational participation. She loves working with youth, teaching the Confirmation class, and working with Bar and Bat Mitzvah students. She is especially proud of having integrated the L’Taken, a Religious Action Center Social Justice program for teens, into their 10th Grade Confirmation year. She also taught many adult education classes on topics ranging from Religious & Spiritual Poetry to Jewish views of moral issues in complicated times.
She and her husband, Michael Simons, have both been very involved with theater and she brings elements of that experience to her congregation. She lived in San Francisco some time back, working with A Traveling Jewish Theater. At TBK she developed “Shabbat On Stage,” a performance series giving the synagogue’s teens an opportunity to grow through the arts, and to learn more about the cultural aspects of Jewish tradition. Michael is professionally involved in theater, extensively on the back-stage, production and direction sides. (Between them we expect our future Purim spiels to be amazing.) She uses the method of story-telling in her sermons and in other teaching situations to make material accessible. We saw a wonderful example of that when she worked with our children during t’fillah as part of her recent CBT visit.
Rabbi Gutterman has also served as a role model for other young rabbis, having participated in the STAR Foundation Peer Leadership Program in 2008-2009, a yearlong study and mentorship program for exceptional pulpit rabbis and was a panelist for Hebrew Union College’s Homiletics class to speak to current HUC students about the sermon writing process. She has written articles not only for her TBK bulletin, but for the local Jewish newspaper and for the Union for Reform Judaism.
Finally, she is a mensch. She is warm and engaging and easy to talk with and has a wonderful sense of humor. We count ourselves very fortunate that she and Michael decided to make our community their community.