Rabbi Darby Leigh
Rabbi Darby Jared Leigh, a native New Yorker, is a life-long “truth-seeker.” His rabbinate is characterized by creativity, inclusivity, and a commitment to diversity. Rabbi Darby describes himself as “committed to finding creative ways to engage Jews of all ages and backgrounds and to creating welcoming, caring communities with intellectual honesty and spiritual depth.”
“I knew I wanted to become a rabbi,” he shares. “I wanted to sing and dance and pray, to engage people in this search for truth. But I pushed the thought away. A deaf rabbi?”
His rabbinate is characterized by creativity, inclusivity, and a commitment to diversity—he is a life-long truth-seeker.
Rabbi Darby received a BA in Religion Summa Cum Laude from the University of Rochester. He then toured with the National Theater of the Deaf (NTD) and served as a social worker and counselor at the New York Society for the Deaf. Leigh earned a MA in Religion from Columbia University and his rabbinic ordination and a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.
He was honored to be featured in the ABC and NBC Emmy-nominated documentary, A Place for All: Faith and Community for Persons with Disabilities(See an overview clip here) He also served as a consultant for the Oscar-nominated documentary film Sound and Fury and for Hands On, an organization that provides sign-language interpreting services for Broadway and off-Broadway productions. Rabbi Darby has been a speaker for the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities and other organizations where he has taught on issues related to deafness and disability access.
Rabbi Darby was selected to be one of the first fellows of “Rabbis Without Borders,” an initiative of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership (CLAL). He also served LGBTQ Jews, their friends and families in NYC, where he spent two years as a rabbinical intern at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah.
He served as a faculty member at the Academy for Jewish Religion; as an Associate/Sabbatical Rabbi at B’nai Keshet in Montclair NJ; as a rabbi of The New Shul in NYC; as a student rabbi of Or HaNeshamah in Ottawa, Canada; and as a rabbinic educator with Hillel at Temple and Drexel Universities in Philadelphia.
Rabbi Darby and his wife, Randi, are the proud parents of three daughters, Rayna, Ariza, and Sivan. He is a passionate snowboarder and fire-juggler, loves mountains, and has toured as a leading actor with the Tony award-winning National Theater of the Deaf (NTD) and has also appeared on stage with the rock bands Jane’s Addiction and Twisted Sister!
Scheduling Times to Meet with Rabbi Darby Leigh
Rabbi Darby is available to meet with congregants one-on-one to discuss any matter that is on their minds—he loves to spend time with people, even if it is just to schmooze! If you would like to schedule a meeting, please contact the office at .
Rabbi Darby in the Media
Kerem Shalom’s Rabbi Darby Authors Chapter in Deaf Identities — Exploring New Frontier
Rabbi Darby was featured in the Concord Journal and Jewish Boston in an article highlighting his contribution to Deaf Identities —Exploring New Frontier and his role in bringing ASL classes and an ASL chorus to Kerem Shalom.
An excerpt: “Rabbi Leigh, was the perfect expert to offer the Jewish viewpoint for the book—he is one of few D/deaf rabbis in the world. As an expert in Torah, who has travelled extensively teaching Torah analysis, he could offer the full analysis of moving in D/deaf and non-deaf religious worlds.”
Tablet Magazine: 15 American Rabbis You Haven’t Heard Of, But Should
“…Our aim is to highlight the work of Jewish leaders and teachers who don’t typically command the national spotlight—none of them ever appeared on Newsweek’s list—but whose influence has been profound….”
“These are rabbis you haven’t heard of, but should. They are the mentors whose synagogues and teachings are well worth exploring during this year’s High Holidays season.”
An excerpt from Tablet Magazine on Rabbi Darby:
“I may not hear very well, but I really know how to listen”
“In August 2013, Darby Leigh became only the second deaf rabbi to lead a hearing congregation in the United States when he assumed the pulpit of the Kerem Shalom synagogue in Concord, Mass….”
Ritualwell Tradition & Innovation: Shema Prayer: American Sign Language and Hebrew
Rabbi Darby teaches the Shema in American Sign Language and explains the choices he has made about how to sign this ancient prayer in a more contemporary and inclusive manner.
Cantor and Director of Adult Programming
Rosalie Gerut has been with Kerem Shalom since the mid-1980s. She is an educational psychologist as well as a singer/songwriter with international credits. Rosalie brings her love of music and Judaic studies to Kerem Shalom by participating in leading services and developing adult programs that build community and deepen the congregation’s understanding of Judaism.
Rosalie received The Charlotte Bloomberg Award for the establishment of One-by-One, Inc.; the Brandeis University Bolli Award for Outstanding Speaker (on the subject of the Holocaust and the role of music); and the WMJX Exceptional Woman Award for Courage. Her publications include original music for recordings, plays, and ballet, as well as articles on the subject of trauma and healing from the fallout of the Holocaust. Rosalie holds a B.A. from Brandeis University, an M.A. from Tufts University, and over the years has continued her studies in psychology, Judaism, and Biblical Hebrew.
Rabbi Sam Pollak
Director of Congregational Learning
Rabbi Sam Pollak joined Kerem Shalom in July 2020. He received a BA in philosophy and comparative religion, at The Ohio State University, where he held leadership positions at Hillel and sang in a Jewish a cappella group. He attended Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion where he received a MA in Hebrew Letters and was ordained as a rabbi in 2017.
He most recently served for three years as one of the rabbis at The Community Synagogue in Port Washington, New York, where his responsibilities included teaching religious school classes and Torah study; leading early childhood classes; establishing an adult education initiative; creating a group to guide interfaith families; serving on a newly formed inclusion committee; and officiating life cycle events. During his rabbinical studies, Sam worked at a number of small congregations in the Midwest.
“I am thrilled to join the Kerem Shalom community, and I am inspired by how the congregation and the Hebrew School emphasize joyful, inclusive Jewish life,” shares Rabbi Sam. “I look forward to meeting everyone and working toward that vision together.
He was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is moving to the Greater Boston area with his husband, Rabbi Ari Abelman, who grew up in Lexington, MA.
Family Engagement Specialist
Nancy Kaplan joined Kerem Shalom as a member in 1999 and as Family Educator in 2002, after a year of teaching in Kerem Shalom’s Hebrew School. Prior to coming to Kerem Shalom, she was a religious educator in Rapid City, South Dakota's Synagogue of the Hills.
Nancy has a Masters in Medical Illustration from the University of Michigan and a B.S. in Biology from Tufts University. She completed the Jewish Family Education certificate program at Hebrew College.
Nancy leads Kerem Shalom’s monthly Tot Shabbat services and works with Rabbi Sam on Kerem Shalom Family Programs. She is the religious school music educator, teaches the Social Action and Sacred Jewish Music curricula during the b’nai mitzvah year, and runs Kerem Shalom’s annual community-wide Mitzvah Day. She also plays the piano in the Mostly Music Ensemble during Kerem Shalom’s Mostly Music Shabbat services. She has also led Kerem Shalom’s monthly TELEM teen volunteer program at Household Goods in Acton.
Nancy and her husband, George, live in Acton with their dog Benny. They have two adult daughters and one son-in-law.
Interim Executive Director
In service to social and economic inclusion, Rosalind’s work includes executive coaching, consulting, teaching, professional training, and research. Her subject matter expertise is focused on a cluster of policy areas, including economic development, regional policy, community development, urban land markets, housing, workforce development, and alternative food systems. Roz’s professional experience spans the public, private, and non-profit sectors. As a philanthropic leader, Roz created multi-sector collaborative partnerships to address systems change. As a non-profit leader, Roz implemented systems change in a research organization to support improved rigor, higher productivity, and greater researcher control.
For the last eight years, Roz has taught US housing policy at Tufts University in their graduate department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning. The interactions of her professional experiences (such as expanding her housing syllabus to focus on the link between government action and residential segregation) and life experiences (such as teaching urban planning in Jackson, Mississippi at JSU) have motivated her to contribute more to the racial equity movement. As part of this work, she is a member of the Alliance NE racial equity/capacity-building task force that is developing training programs.
As the founding chair of the Department of Economic and Community Development at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Roz translated the Institute’s mission–to disseminate the ideas of the 19th Century American political economist, Henry George–into initiatives with meaning and relevance in the 21st Century. Specifically, after leading a strategic planning exercise, her team brought to life the department’s mission of addressing the distribution of the costs and benefits of development. Among the initiatives were projects on brownfield redevelopment, anchor institutions, and shared equity housing. While the topics vary, these initiatives share common principles: beginning with evidence, including multiple stakeholders in program design, developing communities of practice to strengthen the field, and disseminating to multiple audiences using targeted platforms and channels. In order to enhance collective impact, she brought training workshops on facilitative leadership to nonprofit leaders and department heads in municipal government. Two of her most enduring accomplishments from this period were the creation of the National Community Land Trust Network and the National Community Land Trust Academy.
Prior to working at Lincoln, Roz worked for DRI/McGraw-Hill as a senior economist in the regional information service. At this international economic consulting firm, she was responsible for regional forecasts, analysis, client support, and media contact.
Roz’s most-recent professional publications have focused on urban agriculture and alternative food systems in the community planning context. In addition, she has published extensively in the field, including co-editing Urban-Suburban Interdependencies (with Wim Wiewel) and Recycling the City: The Use and Reuse of Urban Land (with Yesim Sungu-Eryilmaz), and authoring or co-authoring over two-dozen book chapters, professional articles, reviews, and op-ed pieces.
Roz earned her BA in economics from the University of California at Santa Cruz and her Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Rabbi Michael Luckens
Rabbi Michael Luckens served at Kerem Shalom’s from 1978 to 2012, at which time he moved to Emeritus status. During his tenure at Kerem Shalom, he led the creation of a deeply rooted and joyful Jewish community that valued tradition and also embraced change. Partnering with synagogue member David Orlinoff, Rabbi Luckens wrote and edited Kerem Shalom’s prayerbook, Shir Ha-Lev (Song of the Heart). Rabbi Luckens is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. He has a MA in Education and a Ph.D. in Religion.