Our Rabbi

Leonard A. Schoolman, D.D.

Rabbi Schoolman is one of the few rabbis in America who has devoted himself full-time to interfaith dialogue in an educational setting.

He was the founding director of the Center for Religious Inquiry at St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York in 1999. Previously, he was the director of the Center for Theological Studies at Christ Church Cathedral in Houston. He also served as consultant to the dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, and to the pastor of Park Avenue Christian Church. Each of these programs was a pioneering effort at engaging Christians, Muslims and Jews in serious study about their religion and the religions of others.

 

Rabbi Schoolman is the author of The Changing Christian World: A Brief Introduction for Jews (Jewish Lights, 2008). This is the first volume a rabbi has ever written that was designed to explain Christian theology to Jews. The book was thoroughly vetted by Catholic and Protestant scholars, and it has been praised for the clarity of its explanations to those who are not experts in theology.

For 18 years, from 1968 to 1986, Rabbi Schoolman was a member of the national staff of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now Union for Reform Judaism) in New York, the central agency of North American Reform Judaism. For most of those years, he directed the biennial national conventions, with more than 4,000 delegates from all over the continent. The conventions served as a main launching place for national educational and cultural programs of the Union. As director of program, Rabbi Schoolman supervised many core departments, including education and book and music publishing. For more than ten years, he directed the program activities of the then 14 regional offices.

In 1986, he was a principal organizer of a unique exhibition in the United States of Hebrew manuscripts from the Vatican Library, which toured museums throughout the United States. While the exhibition was at the Miami Art Museum, that museum was the site of the first meeting of American Jewish leaders with Pope John Paul II.

He was the editor of the art catalogue Spiritual Resistance, which was a selection of art produced in European concentration camps during World War II. This exhibit also toured throughout the United States, beginning with the Jewish Museum in New York.

For the last 15 years, he has been the rabbi for High Holy Day services for graduate students in New York, sponsored by the Metropolitan Council of the Men of Reform Judaism. These services were held in the main sanctuary of St. Bartholomew’s Church. They are now held at Marble Collegiate Church at Fifth Avenue and 29th Street.

Rabbi Schoolman was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, where he earned Bachelor of Hebrew Letters, Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters, and Doctor of Divinity degrees. He was ordained there at the historic Plum Street Temple. He completed his Bachelor of Arts degree at Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts.

As a congregational rabbi, he served pulpits in Los Angeles; Miami; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Rochester, New York. While living in Houston, he served Temple Beth Shalom in College Station, Texas on a weekend basis. This congregation was made up largely of academics, who were faculty at Texas A&M University.

He is married, with two adult children and two grandchildren.