Our Rabbi Emeritus – Stephen H. Pinsky – was born in New York City and grew up in the Riverdale section of the Bronx., graduated from the Bronx High School of Science and went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He was ordained a “Rabbi in Israel” in 1971 by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity by his alma-mater in 1996. Rabbi Pinsky began his rabbinic career as the Assistant and then the Associate Rabbi of Temple Beth-El in Great Neck, New York. Five years later, he was named Rabbi of Temple Sinai of Bergen County located in Tenafly, New Jersey. In July 1981, Rabbi Pinsky was invited to become the Associate Rabbi of Temple Israel, Minnesota’s largest congregation, with a membership of over two thousand households. He was elected Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel in 1986 and remained in that position until 1991 when he was named Regional Director of the Midwest Council of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations – now known as the Union for Reform Judaism – by the late Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler. In that capacity, he maintained contact with sixty-five congregations in the Union’s Midwest Region stretching from Knoxville, Tennessee in the East to Grand Junction, Colorado and Casper, Wyoming in the West traveling widely from his office in St. Louis, Missouri.
During his tenure in Minneapolis, Rabbi Pinsky was part of a national movement dedicated to moving Reform worship toward a more traditional style including a wider use of Hebrew in the liturgy, a greater emphasis on ritual as well as an increase in the depth and breadth of Jewish education for young people and adults. In the larger Minnesota community, Rabbi Pinsky was appointed to a committee by the late Governor Rudy Perpich whose purpose was to establish an institution which would serve the humanitarian needs of its citizens. Along with the Presidents of the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic, the Dean of the University of Minnesota’s Law School and other state notables, Rabbi Pinsky helped establish the Center for the Victims of Torture which he later served as Co-Chair of its Board. The Center is now internationally recognized as a premier institution for serving the needs of a growing population of torture victims in the United States and worldwide.
Rabbi Pinsky also served as State Chair of the Midwest Rhodes Scholarship Committee and on the boards of such diverse institutions as the Park-Nicollet Medical Foundation, the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the Bishop Preuss Leadership Award of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Alfred Adler Institute of Minnesota, Planned Parenthood of Minnesota and the famed Children’s Theater Company in Minneapolis. In addition, Rabbi Pinsky served as a member of the Joint Rabbinic Placement Commission of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and two separate terms on the Joint Commission on Synagogue Music of the Reform Movement. One of his most significant accomplishments was helping to develop the Interfaith Circles program which was created to foster Christian Jewish dialogue which is still in use nationwide.
Throughout his career, Rabbi Pinsky has been active in local and national activities, has an extensive history of commitment to both Jews and Christians and has been the recipient of numerous awards for his dedication to the community at large. While serving as the UAHC Regional Director in St. Louis, Rabbi Pinsky continued his work in community outreach by serving as Vice-President of the St. Louis Chapter of the American Jewish Congress, Secretary of the St. Louis Rabbinic Association and President of the Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis, the largest interfaith organization in Missouri. He also served on the Boards of the St. Louis Jewish Federation and its Jewish Community Relations Council.
In July of 1996, Rabbi Stephen H. Pinsky became the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Torah in Wellington, Florida – a Reform congregation serving the western communities of Palm Beach County – and he was installed in his new position by Rabbi Schindler. During his seventeen years of leadership, Temple Beth Torah has more than doubled in size growing from two hundred to over four hundred fifty families. As the result of his dedication and caring, the congregation has become a premier congregation in South Florida and has served as a model for other “mid-sized” synagogues throughout the nation. It serves as an example of how a congregation can continue to grow yet remain committed to the spiritual, cultural and educational needs of its members. In Rabbi Pinsky’s own words: “Temple Beth Torah is a congregation to which people come to heighten their joys and soften their sorrows. It is a mishpachat mishpachot – a family of families – committed to the values and traditions of our Reform movement and to its mission of reaching out to members and its community l’dor va’dor – from generation to generation.”
While serving the spiritual and pastoral needs of Temple Beth Torah’s growing membership, Rabbi Pinsky continued his passion for interfaith dialogue and cooperation. He served for nine years as Co-Chair of the Interfaith Clergy Council of the Palm Beaches along with Sister Roberta Popara. He also served as President of the Palm Beach County Board of Rabbis, on the Executive Committee of the of the Jewish Community Relations Council and has served on the boards of the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and Planned Parenthood of Palm Beach County. According to The Palm Beach Post, Rabbi Pinsky is considered to be “…one of the charismatic preachers of Palm Beach County.”
Rabbi Pinsky resides in Wellington with his wife, Lisa, who retired after sixteen years of service as Assistant Principal of the Arthur I. Meyer Jewish Academy in West Palm Beach. They are the proud parents of two grown children. Their son, Seth, currently serves as the CEO of the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan and his daughter-in-law, Angela, is an executive with Google in New York City. They live in Manhattan along with their son Theo and their granddaughter Amelia. Their daughter, Kira, and her husband, Seth Blakeley, live in Fort Collins, Colorado with their two daughters Ella and Sasha.
Rabbi Pinsky assumed the title of Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Beth Torah in 2013 and he and Lisa remain in Wellington and travel a great deal while the Rabbi continues to involve himself in the community – both Jewish and non-Jewish – and to officiate at lifecycle events in the congregation and community.