Steven Engel currently serves as Rabbi of Congregation of Reform Judaism (CRJ), a Reform synagogue affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). Along with his focus on teaching, pastoral and liturgical responsibilities, he has brought his unique vision for building a synagogue where the rabbi is a partner with the leadership and members and where the focus is on meaningful relationships built through study, prayer and action. His congregants note his energy and enthusiasm, benefit from his incredible focus and creativity, and appreciate his wisdom about how religious institutions function. As the Rabbi of Central Florida’s largest Reform Jewish congregation, he is involved outside of CRJ in the Jewish and secular communities as well.
- Rabbi Engel received a B.A. in Physics from Rutgers University, a Masters of Arts in Hebrew Letters from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles and Rabbinic Ordination from the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1988. After ordination he served as Associate Rabbi in Columbus Ohio. He then became the spiritual leader of Mississippi’s largest congregation where he was actively involved in local and state civic and political affairs and was often called upon to represent the Jewish community of Mississippi. While there he successfully challenged the Governor on issues related to religious diversity and hate crimes. He received Mississippi’s most prestigious leadership award from the Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference and citations from the Governor and Mayor making May 12th “Rabbi Steven W. Engel Day” in the state of Mississippi and in city of Jackson. He has been prominent on the national scene as well having appeared in national media including The New York Times, USA Today, US News & World Report, CNN and on the Today Show.
He has most notably facilitated groups and created programs dealing with issues of support. These groups have included: support groups for interfaith couples, for grieving families, and for parents to deal with teen issues including suicide. He served as adjunct professor of religion at Millsaps College, on various Bio-Ethics Committees, on several committees of his Professional Rabbinic Organization (CCAR), as the Rabbinic Co-Chair of the Reform Movement’s Israel Organization (ARZA), as President of his regional Rabbinic Organization (SEACCAR), and as President of the Greater Orlando Board of Members (GOBOR).
His academic interests include: American Jewish history and American Jewish Fiction in the 20th Century, Jewish Text Study and Ethics. His Rabbinic thesis was entitled “A Critical Psychobiography of Kivie Kaplan Against the Backdrop of Black-Jewish Relations in the 20tth Century”. Rabbi Engel has also been actively involved in Social Concerns twice serving as President of Stewpot Community Services, Jackson MS’s largest social service agency, and was co-founder of “The Feed The Homeless Breakfast” program in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. He was one of four founders of the Amos Network, an interfaith community organizing group and CRJ has a myriad of programs to helping those in need in Central Florida. He is currently involved in bringing together the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities for dialogue and interfaith programs.
Rabbi Engel is married to Beverly, a gerontologist and they have three children. He loves his work as a Rabbi as he constantly finds it challenging and invigorating.