The Winding Road To The Rabbinate

Cindy Mindell writes for the Jewish Ledger:

BLOOMFIELD – The call comes from someone “deep in southwest Texas, headed for New Mexico.” It’s Stephen Landau, the new rabbi at Tikvoh Chadoshoh in Bloomfield, and he’s driving through the familiar landscape, visiting friends and family, catching up on rest, before taking the Connecticut pulpit on Aug. 1.

Landau is a Dallas native who lived and worked in New Mexico for 20 years before deciding to become a rabbi. A carpenter by trade, he was ordained on June 1 from Hebrew College in Newton, Mass.

“My heart is here in many ways,” he says of the American southwest, “and I always expected to return here or to the mountain states of the American west. But something happened when I went to visit Tikvoh Chadoshoh. Even though I had other opportunities, they basically won my heart.”

Landau will succeed Rabbi Lily Kaufmann, who served Tikvoh for seven years and left this summer to become the Theresa Berman Director of Jewish Learning at Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minnetonka, Minn.

“There was something very non-concrete about my attraction to Tikvoh,” Landau says. “The congregants’ attitude and culture, the community they’ve built over 70 years, match my dreams and vision for community. It has a lovely, chavurah-like intimacy that you don’t often find once a congregation gets bigger than 50 or 60 families. They care very deeply about each other as individuals and Jews, and they’re very good to their rabbi. They’re easy to love.”

Landau says that while he always identified as a Jew, he was raised in a Jewish-secular family, with a high degree of ethnic, cultural, and historical identity with Judaism. “I’ve always been a person intrigued with the unseen, with what we don’t see or know,” he says. “In a Jewish sense, I’ve always been intrigued more with the questions much more than the answers.”

About Luke Ford

Raised a Seventh-Day Adventist at Avondale College in Australia, Luke Ford moved to California in 1977. He graduated from Placer High School in 1984, reported the news at KAHI/KHYL radio for three years, attended Sierra College and UCLA, was largely bedridden by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for six years, and converted to Judaism in 1993. From 1997-2007, Luke made his living from blogging. Living by Beverly Hills (, he now teaches the Alexander Technique (moving the way the body likes to move). Lessons cost $100 each and last about 45 minutes. In 2011, Luke completed a three-year teaching course at the Alexander Training Institute of Los Angeles. His personal Alexander Technique website is Luke is the author of five books, including: » The Producers: Profiles in Frustration » Yesterday’s News Tomorrow: Inside American Jewish Journalism
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