Clergy & Professional Staff - Rabbi's Biography

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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. At age 16 he changed his career goal from a biologist to a 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 forwards or backwards.

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. Golda lives in New Jersey.

Rabbi Wylen took his first solo 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 retirement. Since that time Rabbi Wylen has served as an interim rabbi, first in Jackson, MS, then in Glastonbury, CT, and now at Temple Beth Rishon in Wyckoff, NJ.

Rabbi Wylen combines his love of writing with his love of sharing Jewish teachings by writing books about Judaism. His first published book Settings of Silver has been for many years the most popular college introduction to Judaism. It is also used in many conversion and adult education classes. Rabbi Wylen wrote a textbook on Jewish holidays for the Reform movement - The Book of the Jewish Year. His other works include The Jews in the Time of Jesus, The Seventy Faces of Torah, and Gossip: The Power of the Word. It is Rabbi Wylen's belief 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 playing golf and taking long walks. He likes to bake bread, including challah for Shabbat. 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 this positive direction at every stage in his own life. Believing that, "I will be wherever God wants me to be," Rabbi Wylen is truly looking forward to sharing in community life at Temple Beth Rishon.