Rabbi Peter Levy
Rabbi Peter Levy brings a vibrant sense of spirituality to Etz Hayim Synagogue. He combines modern music with traditional practice to create a welcoming worship experience that encourages participation by all.
His Jewish roots go back to the Long Island Federation of Temple Youth, a local region of NFTY. He was LIFTY song leader, a member of the Choir and Dance Caravan, and served on its Executive Board. It was this exposure to and experience in the formative years of modern Reform Judaism that provided the foundation for his growth as a Reform Jew.
His more recent experience, prior to ordination, includes many years as a lay leader at Central Synagogue of Nassau County, in Rockville Centre, New York, culminating in his tenure as President of the congregation from 2008 to 2010. Before entering rabbinic school, he served as a para-rabbinic and para-cantorial presence at several congregations around Long Island, Brooklyn, and in San Juan for over 20 years. In 2008, he entered the program for rabbinic studies at the Academy for Jewish Religion, in Yonkers, New York. Their trans-denominational program included a broad spectrum of studies in liturgy, theology, history, and rabbinics, and culminated in his ordination in May of 2014. His training incorporated elements of Conservative, Renewal, and Recontructionist Judaism, along with Reform Jewish practice.
All of this enables Rabbi Levy to provide a diverse and multi-faceted opportunity for people to create a personal connection to Judaism while becoming a part of an open, inclusive, and welcoming community.
Rabbi Louis A. Rieser - November 5, 1948 – January 15, 2020 (18 Tevet 5780)
Rabbi Rieser came to Etz Hayim Synagogue in Derry in 1997 and, after retiring in 2011 and moving south, remained connected to our community until his passing. Rabbi Rieser was ordained at Hebrew Union College in 1975 and was a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. He received an honorary doctorate from HUC in 2000. He was the rabbi for several Hillels and served the congregation of Temple Israel in Greenfield, Massachusetts from 1982 until 1997 prior to coming to Etz Hayim. In March of 2000, Rabbi Rieser was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree by Hebrew Union College, recognizing 25 years of service to the Reform Movement. He had published extensively on many topics and authored “The Hillel Narratives,” published in 2009. Even after his retirement, he remained active, regularly teaching at local synagogues and founding Nishmat Torah, a program teaching adult spirituality and meditation. Rabbi Rieser was a longtime teacher for The National Havurah Summer Institute. He is survived by his wife, Connie; his children, Micha Rieser and Zev Rieser (Britta); and eight grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, Albert and Ellen.
We will always have Rabbi Rieser in our hearts. We have installed a memorial bench in his honor in our meditation garden at the end of the Path of Life. We hope you will visit and take a moment to sit and remember him. זיכרונה לברכה
Previous Rabbi: Bryna Milkow
Founding Rabbi: Rabbi Bruce Diamond