My calling as a Rabbi is deeply rooted in the progression of every aspect of my life, in every career choice I have ever made and in every job I have ever held. Each of life’s episodes has taught me something absolutely necessary to be the Rabbi that I am. And even though as a young man, I never even imagined becoming a Rabbi, perhaps it has never really been within my power to choose.
I began my spiritual journey as a child. I attended the (Orthodox) Yeshiva of Hudson County grammar school and Lubavitch staffed Rogosin Yeshiva High School.
In college I majored in Voice and obtained a B.A. in Music Education from Jersey City University. Following college, I performed as a singer/actor off and on Broadway, most notably, in the show “STRIDER” in 1978-79. I was a film extra (look for me in “The Chosen” but don’t blink) and I wrote an Off-Off Broadway Musical, which I produced in 1981.
In 1986, I co-founded Blane & DeRosa Productions, an audiobook and children’s audio production company. To date, we have produced thousands of audio recordings for major publishers.
More than two decades ago, when my first daughter was born, I began studying to become a Cantor with my mentor Hazzan Noah Schall.
I then began my professional Cantorial career by leading High Holiday services at Conservative Temples Beth Israel in Biloxi, Mississippi in 1991 and Shaarey Zedek in Buffalo, N.Y. in 1992. I served for four years as Cantor (1994-98) at Conservative First Hebrew Congregation in Peekskill, New York, and one year (1996) as Cantor at Reform Temple Beth Haverim in Mahwah, N.J.
During my final year at First Hebrew Congregation, I served as Spiritual Leader. I then became Cantor at Congregation Beth Israel in Bergenfield, N.J. from 1999-2006.
From 2001-2009, I was a member of the Cantor’s Assembly- a collection of the finest Hazzanim in the world. I resigned from the CA in 2009 when I was offered the option of resignation or expulsion by the Cantor’s Assembly when I began officiating at Interfaith Weddings.
I was ordained as Rabbi in June 2001 at Rabbinical Seminary International after completing a course of study with Rabbi Joseph Gelberman in New York City. I am a member of the International Federation of Rabbis (IFR).
Prior to founding Sim Shalom, I served as Rabbi and Spiritual Leader of Congregation Beth Tikvah-New Milford Jewish Center from 2006-2009.
While I am rooted in Jewish tradition, I have always been comfortable among all of the movements, and have led services in Lubavitch, Orthodox, Conservative and Reform communities. As Rabbi and Cantor, my commitment is to nurture, heal and bring joy to the community. My vision has always been one of universal kindness, peace and inclusiveness.
While I was serving the New Milford community, it became clear to me that my vision for the Rabbinate was much larger than I could realize in the Conservative or any particular movement. “I became very sad. Yes, I was doing well- I was paid fairly and I loved being the Rabbi. But I was surely not growing- and neither was the community.
And so I left that traditional pulpit to journey on my own.” Echoing the experience of my mentor Rabbi Joseph Gelberman (of Blessed Memory), I chose a new path.
In 2010, I founded Congregation Sim Shalom, an Online Jewish Universalist Community that meets every weeknight at 7PM. The Sim Shalom community welcomes everyone to participate in all rituals and has online members all over the world who join in joyful, uplifting worship.
I have envisioned and founded a new Jewish Movement, Jewish Universalism.
Jewish Universalism espouses SEVEN key doctrines:
- JU honors our Jewish rituals, traditions, teachings and texts and seeks to repair the world, Tikkun Olam, through acts of loving kindness, G’milut Hasadim.
- JU accepts the Ten Commandments and believes the Torah is divinely inspired and is Holy.
- JU is creedal and founded on the core statement “Hear oh Israel (and Humankind), the Lord is G-d, the Lord is One.”
- JU believes all paths to the divine are equally Holy and that one’s religion is not the sole and exclusive source of truth.
- JU asserts that all people who follow the dictate to love your neighbor as yourself are “chosen.”
- JU believes Judaism is a constantly evolving spiritual practice.
- JU welcomes all people to participate in our Jewish worship and rituals.