Rabbi Stephen Wylen

When Rabbi Wylen was a child, his family attended Friday night worship services every week at Main Line Reform Temple in suburban Philadelphia. He was active in youth group and religious school in high school. His "other" synagogue was Young Israel in Winfield, West Philadelphia. At age 16 he changed his career goal from biologist" to "rabbi." After gaining a B.A. at the University of Pennsylvania with a major in English, Rabbi Wylen went on to the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem and New York. During his years at seminary Rabbi Wylen devoted himself passionately to studying the Hebrew language. He takes seriously the dictum of Hillel that one must learn something new every day, because we are always moving either forward or backward and it is better to move forward.

After ordination in 1980, Rabbi Wylen accepted a post as the assistant rabbi at Temple DeHirsch Sinai in Seattle. There he met his wife Cheryl, a Seattle native. Their marriage has born fruit with four children and a growing number of grandchildren. Jeremy lives in Seattle, Elisheva and Shoshana live in Israel, and Golda lives in New Jersey.

Rabbi Wylen took his first solo rabbinic position in Huntington, West Virginia. After six happy years there he moved on to Scranton, PA, and seven years later to Wayne, NJ, where he served at Temple Beth Tikvah for twenty years until his first retirement. Since that time Rabbi Wylen has served as an interim rabbi in Jackson MS, in Glastonbury, CT, and at Temple Beth Rishon in Wyckoff, NJ.

Rabbi Wylen is a published author, combining his love of writing with his love of sharing Jewish teachings. His first book, Settings of Silver, has been for many years the most popular college introduction to Judaism, and is also used in many conversion and adult education classes. Rabbi Wylen also wrote a textbook for the Reform movement on the Jewish holidays - The Book of the Jewish Year. His popular work The Jews in the Time of Jesus generates an understanding of the founding years of both Christianity and Judaism. His other books are The Seventy Faces of Torah, and Gossip: The Power of the Word. Rabbi Wylen believes that the teachings of Judaism are so beautiful and such a powerful guide to living that they should have a wide audience.

Rabbi Wylen enjoys bicycling, playing golf and taking long walks; he likes to bake bread, including challah for Shabbat, and he loves a good Torah discussion.

Rabbi Wylen believes that the synagogue is the central and most necessary institution to transmit the spirit of Judaism. He believes that in a free society Jews will choose Judaism when they experience the positive difference that living as a Jew can make in one's life. He believes that he has experienced that positive direction at every stage in his own life, and that "I am where God wants me to be".

 


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