Clergy

Rabbi Lisa Gelber      

Rabbi Lisa Gelber is thrilled to serve as spiritual leader of the Congregation Habonim Community. Born right here in New York City, Rabbi Gelber grew up in Westchester County and graduated from Amherst College with an AB in Religion, magna cum laude. Since receiving ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), she has served congregations in Mercer Island, Washington and Skokie, Illinois, as well as guiding, coaching and training rabbinical, cantorial and education students in her role as Associate Dean of the Rabbinical School at JTS.


Rabbi Gelber thrives on collaborative work and delights in helping seekers of all ages find their way into Jewish community and practice as they strive to discover, deepen and nurture their Jewish life and identity, individually and as part of sacred community. A relationship builder at heart, Rabbi Gelber loves to learn, sing, and pray with young and old.

Co-editor of A Journey Towards Freedom: a Haggadah for survivors of domestic violence, Rabbi Gelber has lectured nationwide about domestic violence in the Jewish Community, and served on the Board of FaithTrust Institute (formerly Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence). A long distance runner, long time fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through their Team in Training program, and trained spiritual director with certification from the Yedidya Center, Rabbi Gelber uses running as spiritual practice and believes in the power of contemplative practice to strengthen community and family relationships.

Parent to an elementary school aged daughter, Rabbi Gelber's journey to parenthood is featured in the Emmy nominated documentary ALL OF THE ABOVE: Single, Clergy, Mother. 

Contact Rabbi Gelber here to talk about all aspects of Jewish life and living, and to learn how to connect with others in our sacred community. 

To schedule time with Rabbi Gelber, contact Kenny Altman.

Cantor Bruce Halev

Cantor Bruce HalevCantor Bruce Halev has served as the Cantor of Congregation Habonim since 1983. A graduate of the School of Sacred Music of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), he also holds MA degrees in Near Eastern Studies and in Jewish Education from New York University, as well as an MSW from Yeshiva University. In 2011 he received a Doctorate of Music, Honoris Causa, from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion for 25 years of service to his synagogue and to the Jewish community.

With an ongoing interest in themes of Jewish spirituality, Cantor Halev completed a two-year program in Spiritual Direction through Lev Shomeah, an organization of Jewish Spiritual Directors. He also has a strong personal interest in Jewish Mysticism and has taught numerous courses on this subject at Congregation Habonim, The Open Center, and at other venues.

Cantor Halev began his professional life in the opera and theater worlds in Europe and Israel before deciding to pursue a career in the cantorate. He is a graduate of the London Opera Center, and also studied in Italy with Tito Gobbi, the great Italian baritone. He sings in four languages and his two favorite operatic roles are Don Giovanni and Rigoletto.

>The cantor is involved in all aspects of our synagogue life. He has a passion for working with students of all ages in deepening their connection to Judaism and, over the past 34 years at Habonim, he has learned a great deal from the founders of our congregation about what it means to live fulfilling and thoughtful Jewish lives. These men and women, who escaped Nazi Germany, brought with them their love of Judaism and a deep-seated love of culture; the cantor has infinite affection and respect for them, and has relished these many years in their company.

One of Cantor Halev’s greatest pleasures is making music with the rabbi and synagogue staff, together with our Nursery School students, at our weekly Rock Shabbat and Tot Shabbat services. He believes that there is nothing more vital to Jewish worship than music; it is at the very heart of spirituality -- bringing joy, personal insight and a unique sense of community to all participants while connecting us deeply to our Jewish roots.

Cantor Halev lives on the Upper West Side with his wife, Joanie. He is the proud father of two daughters, Becca Thandi and Talia Michal, both of whom also live in New York City. 

Contact Cantor Halev here.

Find samples of music used for our services, including children's services, here