TBE of Ithaca appoints new rabbi and ed. director

Temple Beth-El, the largest synagogue in Tompkins County, has appointed Rabbi Caleb Brommer, a recent graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, as its new rabbi, and Calle Schueler as the synagogue’s new director of education and engagement, both effective July 1. Brommer will fill a vacancy at Temple Beth-El since its former rabbi accepted another position in 2023.

“Rabbi Brommer is a young, traditionally trained rabbi who is forward-thinking and passionate about Judaism,” said Jerry Dietz, who became the synagogue’s president on July 1. “Our hope is that his youth and enthusiasm will draw in unaffiliated members of our community while continuing his wide appeal to our congregation.”

Schueler will serve as director of the Rabbi Felix Aber Religious School, the B’Yachad Ithaca Jewish Preschool, and youth and family programming at the synagogue. “We feel incredibly fortunate to have someone with Calle’s skill, dedication and passion for Jewish learning joining Temple Beth-El,” said Melanie Kalman, the synagogue’s former co-president. Schueler, who has a master’s degree in Jewish education from the Jewish Theological Seminary, is the former assistant director of family life and learning at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Manhattan.

Brommer began his career in Jewish education as the youth engagement and curriculum coordinator at Temple Sholom in Chicago. He then earned a master’s degree in Jewish professional studies from the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago.

After teaching at the Chicago synagogue for three years, Brommer said he decided to make the transition to the rabbinate. “I think I just realized that there’s a place where I can go to do the type of Jewish learning and the type of Jewish teaching and the type of Jewish community-building that I want to be doing,” he said. “And it became more and more clear that that was rabbinical school.”

Brommer first visited Temple Beth-El last summer as a scholar-in-residence. In his first trip to Ithaca, he said he was impressed by the beauty of the area and the active volunteers he met at the synagogue. “The fact that people are ready, willing and excited to spend time and energy working on behalf of the synagogue and the broader Jewish community is really, really moving and exactly what we wanted,” said Brommer, whose wife, Rebecca, is a social worker and a doula.

Brommer said his goals as the rabbi at Temple Beth-El are to expand the size of the religious school and attract young families to the synagogue. “I want to make people feel like they have a stake in their community and in living a Jewish life,” he said. “Living Jewishly has made me a better and more aware person, and I want to give people access points to that.”

Brommer said he would also like to help Temple Beth-El continue to work with other congregations, colleges and universities, and community organizations in Ithaca. “I know that Temple Beth-El has a strong history of interfaith work and I’m really excited about meeting with community organizations in order to forge those partnerships,” he said.