Dr. Sheldon J. Harr has been the senior Rabbi of Temple Kol Ami since 1976, serving the Congregation practically since its inception. He is a native of Youngstown, Ohio. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Cincinnati, he went on to graduate work at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts Degrees in Hebrew Letters, ultimately leading to Rabbinic Ordination. He later earned his Doctor of Ministry Degree from Emory University in Atlanta, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree from Hebrew Union College in 1998.
Rabbi Harr has been very active in national Jewish activities, among which include leading the National Rabbinic Cabinet of Jewish National Fund, serving on numerous national commissions and boards (including the Boards of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and ARZA/World Union North America) and conducting seminars and programs at national conventions of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the CCAR. Locally, he has served as President of the Southeast Region of the CCAR, and has been a member of the Boards of the Jewish Federation, The Jewish Family and Children's Service, and many other organizations.
On a communal level, Rabbi Harr currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Broward Partnership for the Homeless and has been actively involved with School Board of Broward County. He has served as President of the West Broward Religious Leaders Fellowship and a Vice-Chair of the Urban League, among his many community activities.
Prior to serving as Rabbi of Temple Kol Ami, he was the Assistant Rabbi of Temple Israel of West Palm Beach. As a student he served pulpits in Monessen, Pennsylvania; Towson, Maryland; Brookhaven, Mississippi, and Youngstown, Ohio. Rabbi Harr is married to Fern (Katz), and is the father to his adult son Bryan and his late daughter Elizabeth.
Years ago the bank then known as Chase Manhattan put a sign in their window: “Have a friend at Chase Manhattan.” The Israeli bank on the opposite corner on Fifth Avenue in New York put up this sign: “Here, You’re Mishpocha!” From my perspective, that is great counter-advertising, as long as you know what Mishapocha means! The bottom line, however, in this matter is that friends are important, but Family is essential.
There is a reason we advertise ourselves as “The Family of Kol Ami Emanu-El.” It is simple: we are committed each and every day to live according to the ideals of Family Life. We try to be supportive of each other in times of tsouris and challenge. We try to be supportive of each other in times of simchas and celebrations. We share each other’s sadnesses, even as we rejoice in each other’s joys.
Like all families, we occasionally fall short of our highest potential. But like all families, we also achieve our fullest and highest potential, caring and sharing with one another in positive and wonderful ways which are unlike any other.
Your Family of Kol Ami Emanu-El needs each member of our larger Temple Family to continue to be supportive of the rest of the Temple Family. And our entire Temple Family needs each other for the sake of our faith and our heritage. Only through the central institution of Judaism – the Synagogue - will Jewish life survive. Without that support, Judaism in America will wither away faster than anyone could have imagined. With your support we have the endless and enormous possibilities of strengthening Jewish life in our own lives and in the life of the community. That, too, is part of what your Temple Family is all about!