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Meet Our Clergy

Rabbi Dr. Joel N. Abraham

"My job as Rabbi is to both lead and encourage, to be there for individual congregants and families when I am needed, and to help congregants reach out to each other as well. I, and my family, are excited to be here at Temple Sholom -- a community that is reaching out to define itself and to continually wrestle with what it means to be the best congregation it can be." 

Rabbi Abraham grew up in Somerville where his father was the Rabbi of Temple Beth El and where he was active in JFTY. He co-founded a Reform Jewish student organization in college and has worked for our region's youth movement and Mitzvah Corps. He holds a BA in History from Yale College, an MA in Modern European History from Columbia, and an MAHL from Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. He was ordained at HUC-JIR in New York and studied at the Jerusalem, LA, and NY campuses, and received his Doctor of Divinity honoris causa in May of 2023. He is currently enrolled in a Doctor of Ministry program at the Drew Theological School.

Before becoming Rabbi at Temple Sholom in 1999, he served pulpits in California, Nevada, Virginia, and West Virginia. Rabbi Abraham is a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis; and the Past President (and current Secretary) of the New Jersey-West Hudson Valley Association of Reform Rabbis; mazkir  of the NFTY-GER Clergy team; member of the Central New Jersey Va'ad haRabbanim and the Steering Committee of the MetroWest Rabbis' Roundtable; a member of the steering committee for the Union County Interfaith Coordinating Committee; (twice) past president of the Scotch Plains/Fanwood Ministerium and its representative on the Scotch Plains and Fanwood Joint Committee for Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation; he is a co-founder and Board member of Social Justice Matters, and Board Secretary of Faith in New Jersey, and is fiercely committed to increasing justice in our turbulent world.  Recently, he was chosen to be a member of the New Jersey Reparations Council, Faith and Black Resistance Committee. Along with his wife, Michelle Shapiro Abraham, he is co-author of Mishkan T'filah Journal, an interactive version of the Reform movement's new prayerbook.  In 2019, he was the joint recipient of the Union County Human Relations Commission's Unit Award for Achievement for the work of Social Justice Matters, and was awarded the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Martin Luther King Day of Service award in 2022. 

Rabbi Abraham lives in Fanwood with his spouse, Michelle Shapiro Abraham, DRJE, the Executive Director of Strategic Innovation and Program, Camps and Immersives for the Union for Reform Judaism. His eldest child Avital Devorah is an Avodah Farm Fellow at the Isabella Freedman Retreat Center and his son Ezri Barak attends Northeastern University where he is active in Hillel and the Pep Band.

Cantor Darcie N. Sharlein

"As a Cantor, I am always striving to build connections. Whether it is through music at services, while teaching our students in preparation for becoming b’nei mitzvah, or simply during conversations with congregants, I hope to help the members of our Temple Sholom community connect more deeply with God and their Jewish heritage, with others in the congregation, and with themselves. I believe that Judaism can bring depth, beauty, and meaning to our lives. It is a joy and a privilege to walk with our congregants on their Jewish journeys, to help forge connection, beauty, and meaning."

A New Jersey native, Cantor Sharlein traces her love for Jewish music and worship to experiences as a child and young adult at Temple Shalom (Aberdeen, NJ), NFTY, and URJ Kutz Camp. She holds a BA in Music from Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT), and received a Master of Sacred Music degree and cantorial ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music.

While studying at HUC-JIR, Cantor Sharlein served as a Student Cantor here at Temple Sholom and at Congregation B’nai Yisrael in Armonk, NY. From 2008-2012, she served as the Cantor of Temple Emanu-El in Oak Park, MI, where she was involved in the full range of clergy responsibilities including worship, education, life cycle and pastoral care, and synagogue leadership. She is a past vice-president of Refugee Assistance Partners and a member of the American Conference of Cantors.

Cantor Sharlein lives in Fanwood with her spouse, Jeffrey, and their children, Ruth and Micah.

Wed, May 22 2024 14 Iyar 5784