Kalamazoo’s Temple B’nai Israel Welcomes New Rabbi
Continuing growth in membership at Kalamazoo’s Reform Jewish congregation has allowed it to hire its second consecutive full-time rabbi, following a period of part-time leadership from 1969-2014.
On July 1, Rabbi Simone Schicker began her tenure as the religious leader of Temple B’nai Israel, Kalamazoo’s Reform Jewish congregation. She takes over the position from Rabbi Matthew Zerwekh, who served the temple from 2014-2018, when he moved back to the Detroit area to lead Temple Emanu-El.
Schicker was raised in an interfaith household and found herself drawn to Judaism after spending multiple summers at Camp Young Judaea, a Jewish overnight camp. It was at age 13, at her bat mitzvah, that she felt called to pursue the rabbinate.
Throughout middle and high school, Schicker was actively involved in Jewish youth activities including NFTY-TOR, J-Serve, March of the Living and others. She earned her BA in history with honors at Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Ala.
While in college, she jumpstarted Jewish student involvement in religious activities, as well as helped found an Interfaith House where students of different faiths lived together while running programming for other students on the campus.
After her undergraduate studies, Schicker attended the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, where she was ordained as a rabbi in June.
The congregation will celebrate her leadership at an installation ceremony during services in November.