Rabbi Matthew Cutler
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"Rabbi Matt" joined Congregation Gates of Heaven as its spiritual leader July 1, 1995. Rabbi Matthew S. Cutler was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City in 1990, where he also obtained his Master of Arts and Hebrew Letters. He graduated with honors from State University of New York at Binghamton, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in History and Judaic Study. Prior to his arrival in Schenectady, Rabbi Cutler served as Associate Rabbi at Temple Shalom in Newton, Massachusetts.
Rabbi Cutler models his rabbinate after a quote in Pirkei Avot: "Find yourself a teacher; acquire yourself a friend." According to Rabbi Cutler, a Rabbi is first and foremost a teacher of Torah, though he believes Jewish education is not limited to the classroom. In his professional experiences, Rabbi Cutler seeks to create many different avenues of informal Jewish education. He has been an active member of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations Joseph Eisner Camp-Institute for Living Judaism in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. In addition, Rabbi Cutler has served as Chair of the Regional URJ-CCAR-NATE Joint Committee on Jewish Education and currently serves on a national Joint Commission on Synagogue Music.
Rabbi Cutler is active in the community. He is a member of the Capital District Board of Rabbis, and served as President of their Board. He is involved in Union College Hillel, a member of the United Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York's Board of Jewish Education and Chair of the Federation's Scholarship Committee and served on the Jewish Federation's Linkages, (outreach and support) to Jewish Gay/Lesbian Community.
Rabbi Cutler is also very involved in social action issues. In 1984, Rabbi Cutler was one of the recipients of the United States Presidential Award for Exemplary Community Service. He serves on the Bethesda House Board, a day shelter for the homeless and working poor. He is on the Board of the Schenectady County Human Rights Commission. He is one of the founders of the Community Crisis Network, an alliance of religious institutions and social agencies to help the underprivileged with dignity.
Rabbi Cutler currently resides in Niskayuna with his wife, Sharon, and their children, Benjamin, Micah and Julia.
Adjunct Rabbi Eleanor Pearlman
Rabbi Pearlman graduated from Boston University, College of Liberal Arts, with a Bachelor of Arts in the Teaching of Chemistry. Concurrently, she earned a Bachelor of Jewish Education from Hebrew College in Boston. She took junior year at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where she also attended the Hayim Greenberg Institute. She earned a Masters degree in Contemporary Jewish Studies at Brandeis University and a Master of Science in Social Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was ordained at the Academy for Jewish Religion, a pluralistic seminary, in May, 2008.
Rabbi Pearlman has utilized her education in various ways. She has taught all levels of Hebrew and Judaic studies to varying groups, from young children to adults. She has taught chemistry and physical science in high school. She has been a therapist for approximately twenty-five years and still maintains a small private practice. For many years she worked as an instructor at Community Health Plan, where she facilitated groups in parenting, stress management, couples communication, and also taught others how to lead groups. She now is working with the venerable elders of our congregational community in organizing their monthly programs, prayer classes, and prayer leadership opportunities. Rabbi Pearlman also facilitates our very popular Senior Moments Luncheon Program.
Rabbi Pearlman lives in Niskayuna with her husband Dr. William Pearlman, a professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Rabbi Emeritus Bernard Bloom
Rabbi Bernard Bloom served our congregation from 1984 to 1995. He earned a B.A. from the University of Toronto in 1952, and was ordained at Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1957, where he also received Bachelors and Masters degrees in Hebrew Letters. He was awarded the Honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1982. Rabbi Bloom resides in Saratoga with his wife, Bailey. They have three children, Jeremy, Margo and Joel.
Student Cantor Stefano Iacono
Stefano Iacono is a first-year cantorial student from San Antonio, Texas where he received his BA in Women's Studies from The University of Texas at San Antonio. In addition to leading Shabbat services at Temple Beth-El, Stefano also taught music and Hebrew at their religious school for three years. On Birthright in 2013, with other members of the Jewish LGBTQ community, he decided to research Jewish spirituality in marginalized communities. As part of his independent study at UTSA, he had the privilege of studying texts and writing liturgical music that became part of his documentary, "Queer is Kosher." At Hebrew Union College he continues to hone the skills necessary to become a cantor in the Reform movement and serve a congregation as its spiritual leader.In Israel, Stefano has spent his year learning Israeli prayer music from every community he can access. From Israeli Jewish Renewal Circles, whose poetry inspired by the Psalms blends with Sephardic and Ashkenazi melodies, to timeless Chassidic tunes filtered through an Israeli sound, he has added to his repertoire of American Reform music and continued to compose new melodies for the movement.
Stefano and his husband Alex are honored to be a part of the community at Congregation Gates of Heaven and are looking forward to moving to New York this August with their two parrots, Zoe and Gandhi.