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Meet Our Clergy

Rabbi Rachael Jackson

Email: rjackson@crjorlando.org

     Rabbi Rachael Jackson is thrilled to become a part of this incredible community, Central Florida’s largest Reform Jewish congregation, which prides itself on being engaging and welcoming. With a passion for teaching, learning, pastoral care, and social justice, Rabbi Jackson knows that CRJ is a great shidduch (match).
     Prior to her CRJ tenure in 2023, Rabbi Jackson served as sole clergy at Agudas Israel in Hendersonville NC. During her HUC-JIR student years, in addition to being part of small congregations, she was also a Fellow at the Cincinnati Jewish Community Center. While there, one of the programs she created and spearheaded was “Experiments with a Message,” directed to preschoolers, using science experiments as a way to teach Jewish values.
     An important facet of Rabbi Jackson’s rabbinate is to seamlessly meld Judaism and modernity, to integrate natural law and Jewish living. As an alum Fellow of Sinai and Synapses, she and other alumni created a podcast [Down the Wormhole] which explored the relationship between science and religion. Bringing relevancy and relationships to Judaism is a crucial part of her rabbinate.
     Rabbi Jackson received a B.A. in Chemistry from Northern Arizona University. She was an analytical chemist for nearly a decade before truly falling in love with the beauty that is congregational life. This led to a change of careers and in 2015, she earned her Rabbinic Ordination from HUC-JIR.
     Rabbi Jackson is married to Danyul Jackson, and together they have a sweet young son Adrian. They are all excited to be at CRJ! She is a dedicated cross-stitcher, avid reader, and enjoyer of card games in her spare time.
 
 

Cantor Bryce Megdal

Email: bmegdal@crjorlando.org

     Cantor Bryce Megdal was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. She attended a Jewish day school from first through eighth grade, where she developed a lifelong love for Judaism and the Hebrew language. She began her singing journey in fourth grade, when she joined the Tucson Jewish Youth Choir in its first year.
     After she had her Bat Mitzvah, through high school, and through college, Cantor Megdal remained involved at her temple with a growing list of roles. In May 2012, she received a Bachelor of Arts in Judaic Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art at the University of Arizona. A year later, she moved to Los Angeles to attend the Academy for Jewish Religion California (AJRCA).
From September 2013 to February 2020, Cantor Megdal was one of two B’nai Mitzvah teachers at Kehillat Israel (KI) Reconstructionist Synagogue of the Pacific Palisades. In May 2015, she received a Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies with an Emphasis in Music in Jewish Life from ARJCA, and in August 2015, she transferred into the Cantorial Program. In her last two years of Cantorial School, Cantor Megdal interned at Temple Akiba in Culver City and Valley Beth Shalom (VBS) in Encino. On May 27, 2019, Cantor Megdal was ordained as a Cantor, and on July 1, 2020, she began her role as Cantor at CRJ.
     While Cantor Megdal fully supports keeping traditional Jewish worship elements alive, such as nusach (the traditional mode of Jewish prayer chant) and older pieces of hazzanut (the traditional music of the Cantorate), and sincerely enjoys singing with a classical style, she also believes it is important to teach new and modern musical settings of Jewish liturgy. She is a Jewish music nerd, always eager to learn new tunes and renditions of Jewish text.
     One of Cantor Megdal’s passions is writing and composing Jewish music. Creating and sculpting her own musical interpretations of Judaism's ancient text and core Jewish concepts nourishes her soul; she hopes her music nurtures others’ souls as well. Two of her songs have been published with Transcontinental Music Publication's books: Nigun Anthology III and The Complete Jewish Songbook for Children III. Cantor Megdal released her first album of original Jewish music, entitled Shine Forth, in May 2016. As of July 6, 2022, she has begun to record her next album (or album series)!
      In addition to the above, Cantor Megdal is an avid photographer, graphic designer, and swimmer. She lives with her husband, Marc Tanne, who is a software engineer.
      To listen to Cantor Megdal’s album or watch videos of her in action, visit www.brycemegdal.com.
 
 

Rabbi Emeritus Steve Engel

Email: swengel@crjorlando.org

     Rabbi Engel is actively involved both inside and outside the synagogue. Rabbi Engel has brought his creativity, dynamism and relationship building skills to our congregation since 1997. Outside of CRJ, he presently serves on the Board of New Hope for Kids-Grieving Center for Children in Maitland, Florida and is a founding member of The Interfaith Council of Central Florida.  He is involved in a program repairing bicycles for the homeless and  has served as an adjunct professor of religion and a guest lecturer at Rollins College and the University of Central Florida.
     Rabbi Engel received a B.A. in Physics from Rutgers University and a Masters Degree from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. He received Rabbinic Ordination in 1988 and a Doctorate in Divinity in 2013 from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. His Rabbinic thesis was entitled “A Critical Psycho-biography of Kivie Kaplan Against the Backdrop of Black-Jewish Relations in the 20th Century”.
     Rabbi Engel was co-creator and co-host of an NPR affiliated interfaith radio show with a Reverend and an Imam and has been prominent on the national scene related to his interfaith work and Social Justice work. He has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, US News & World Report, CNN, Larry King Live, The Today Show and other media. 
     Rabbi Engel is married to Beverly, a gerontologist and they have three children and two grandchildren. He is an avid cyclist, woodworker, baseball card collector, and loves his work as a Rabbi as he finds it challenging and invigorating.
Wed, October 4 2023 19 Tishrei 5784