EAST GREENWICH – Temple Torat Yisrael recently hired Rabbi Ari Saks, as well as a new education director for the Cohen Religious School.
Saks, who replaces departing interim Rabbi David Barnett, started in August on a one-year, part-time basis.
Hillary Guttin, the new education director, will be in place for the start of the school year, on Sept. 10.
Saks comes to Torat Yisrael from the Huntington Jewish Center, in New York, where he was the spiritual leader for six years. During this time, he invigorated Shabbat morning services with engaging Torah discussions, created deep and meaningful relationships with members of all ages, developed innovative and inspirational educational programs for children and adults, and managed the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, among other accomplishments.
Prior to his time at HJC, Rabbi Saks spent five years at Congregation Beth Mordecai, in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. In Perth Amboy, Saks was nicknamed the “Mall Rabbi” for setting up office hours in a local mall as part of his extensive outreach efforts.
Rabbi Saks has an M.A. in Jewish Education and a B.A. in Bible from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and a B.A. from Columbia University in Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures. He and his wife, Rachel, have two children.
Guttin, who is from South Florida, has always been involved in Jewish life, starting with junior congregation and Hebrew School. She has a degree from Brandeis University, where she was heavily involved in Hillel and Jewish a capella.
In Rhode Island, Guttin has worked at the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island as a development associate, and taught Jewish ethics and Hebrew at Torat Yisrael. This fall, she will start her eighth year teaching Judaic Studies at the Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island in Providence.
Guttin says her educational philosophy is that one’s connection to Judaism as a whole is personal – and it is up to educators to help the next generation find its Jewish niche.
Guttin and her family live on a farm in North Scituate, and she plans to bring more gardening programs into the classroom – and bring the classroom outside as well.
Submitted by Temple Torat Yisrael