Rabbi Susan Grossman
Identified by the New York Jewish Week and The Forward as one of the forty five Jewish leaders to watch in the 21st century and honored as a Woman of the Year by Jewish Woman magazine in 2000, Rabbi Susan Grossman is an accomplished author, lecturer, and storyteller who offers her congregants a rare blend of spiritual energy, joy, intellectual stimulation and pastoral compassion. She currently serves on the prestigious Committee for Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement. Her responsum (rabbinic decision) on women serving as witnesses and judges in Jewish law, the use of mikveh, and the permissibility of “Partial Birth Abortion” were accepted as official positions of the Conservative Movement. In Howard County, she has championed interfaith and intercultural cooperation, most recently as it relates to diversity in our public schools and the school calendar.
Rabbi Grossman was one of the first women ordained as a rabbi by Jewish Theological Seminary and the first woman to lead her own congregation in both Westchester, New York and Howard County, Maryland. She has written many articles on the role of women in Judaism and co-edited with Orthodox activist Rivka Haut, the anthology Daughters of the King: Women and the Synagogue, published by Jewish Publication Society. Before entering the rabbinate, she directed Holocaust programming for the National Jewish Resource Center (now CLAL) under Rabbi Yitz Greenberg and worked for many years as a journalist and editor. Rabbi Grossman is perhaps best known for her work as one of the editors of the Conservative Movement Humash, Etz Hayim and Torah Commentary for which she worked with Rabbi Harold Kushner on the Derash section and co-edited with Rabbi Elliot Dorff the Halakha L'Maaseh section. She has a Doctorate in Ancient Judaism from Jewish Theological Seminary and has served as spiritual leader of Beth Shalom Congregation in Columbia, Maryland since 1997. She where she currently lives with her husband David Boder. They are very proud of their son Yoni who is lawyer in New York City.
Cantor Richard Walters
Richard Walters is Beth Shalom’s Cantor. Cantor Walters, a graduate of the Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh College of Jewish Studies, has more than 50 years of cantorial experience with Conservative Jewish congregations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland. Over those years, Cantor Walters has trained and worked extensively with synagogue choirs and has taught Jewish music and prayer to both children and adults. He has also conducted adult education classes in Hebrew Literacy. At Beth Shalom, Cantor Walters brings zest and enthusiasm and a host of lively melodies to our services on Shabbat and holidays. Aside from his pulpit duties and the other sundry tasks he has assumed, Cantor Walters supervises the Beth Shalom Bar/Bat Mitzvah training program, conducts classes in Torah and Haftorah trop, and has organized an adult choir for special events.
Cantor Walters served as Cantor of Temple Israel, Silver Spring, Maryland, for five years immediately before assuming his position with Beth Shalom. Cantor Walters, a gifted singer and musician, comes from a musical family. His father, Samuel Walters, was a violinist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and was a bandleader and synagogue choir director for many years in Pittsburgh. His brother, Cantor Bernard Walters, a pianist and composer, is the Cantor Emeritus of a large Conservative congregation in suburban Philadelphia. Cantor Walters and his wife, Judith, a retired teacher of English for Speakers of Other Languages in the Montgomery County Public Schools, have two married children, Rachel and Joshua, and a grandson, Zachary.
Dr. Louis Nagel, Education Director
Dr. Nagel recently joined the Beth Shalom staff. He brings over 30 years of experience in synagogue-school Jewish education to our program. He has served in numerous leadership positions including Chairman of the Greater Washington Education Directors Council and currently serves as President of the Jewish Educators Assembly (JEA), the Conservative movement’s education professionals organization. He has a BS in Early Childhood Education (University of Maryland), an MA in Jewish Studies (Baltimore Hebrew College), and a PhD in Education Policy and Administration (University of Maryland). His most recognized achievements have been in teacher professional development, curriculum development and special needs education. In 2015, he was presented the JEA Lifetime Achievement Award. He has two daughters, Margo and Jamie with whom he shares a passion for skiing, hiking, cooking, travel and Israel. His favorite holiday is Hanukkah and most appreciated Torah verse is, "Justice, justice you shall pursue"(Devarim 16:20).
Tracey Pyser, Youth Coordinator and Family Programmer
Tracey Pyser is excited to serve as Beth Shalom’s Youth and Family Coordinator. She is a Baltimore native and a recent graduate of Susquehanna University where she studied Public Relations and Jewish Studies. During her term as Hillel President at Susquehanna, Tracey strived to increase the presence of Jewish Life and religious pluralism on campus. Her interest in programming and Jewish student engagement comes from her past experiences with United Way, Jewish Volunteer Connection, the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Baltimore, and the Owings Mills JCC. Tracey is eager to organize programs for families and children at Beth Shalom that help relate Judaism to everyday life and engage congregants with the community while making sure everyone has a great time!