Rabbi Dana Kaplan

Temple Beth Shalom of the West Valley’s newest spiritual leader, Rabbi Dana Evan Kaplan.

Rabbi Shelley Moss has been Temple Beth Shalom of the West Valley’s rabbi since 2005, but in July he will be retiring from the congregation. On Friday, June 28, the synagogue will formally welcome its new spiritual leader, Rabbi Dana Evan Kaplan, with a Shabbat dinner. 

Kaplan came to the West Valley earlier this month and began working with Moss to settle in. His official start date is July 1. 

“Shelley and I have been doing our sermons together, so we’ve been having a dialogue together and that’s been a lot of fun,” Kaplan said. “It’s been a great opportunity to have a gradual entry and to see what and how the previous rabbi has been doing it. When you have a transition like this, it’s important to have as much stability and continuity as possible.”

Born and raised in New York City, Kaplan has served multiple congregations across the country. Since 2015, he was the interim rabbi for Springhill Avenue Temple in Mobile, Alabama. Before that, he was the first rabbi to lead the Jamaican Jewish community in 33 years. 

Temple Beth Shalom is a multigenerational congregation that’s been in the West Valley since 1969. While the synagogue originally catered to residents of Sun City, it later expanded to serve the larger West Valley Jewish community. Kaplan said it’s more important than just a synagogue, because it also acts as a community center for Jews in the area. 

One of Kaplan’s priorities for Temple Beth Shalom is to do more outreach to show the temple is there for all its congregants and the Jewish community at large.

“We have to be able to demonstrate what a synagogue such as ours can do for them to enrich their lives and perhaps give spiritual wisdom to them,” Kaplan said. “We want to help them feel like they’re a part of the community and the benefits that might bring.”

Moss plans to stay in the Sun City area after he retires. Kaplan said that Moss is always welcome at Temple Beth Shalom and will still be an active part of the synagogue and the community. Friday, June 28, will be his last official service as the rabbi for the temple. In related changes, Temple Beth Shalom will also welcome Marvin Berris as incoming temple president.

“We want to be warm, welcoming and spiritually meaningful,” said Kaplan, “and we’ll be continuing to reach out to everyone we can to serve them.” JN

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