Rabbi 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 andwhere
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
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 the
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), on the Executive
Committee 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
connected to the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), and served on the
Board of Mississippi Hearts Against AIDS.
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
Cantor Jacqueline Rawiszer is originally from Long Island, New York and has lived in South Florida, Boston and London prior to settling in Central Florida. She received her B.A. degree from Emerson College in Boston and vocal training at the New England Conservatory of Music and Stetson University.
Since 2002, Cantor Jacki has served Congregation of Reform Judaism in Orlando as co-clergy with rabbinic colleague Rabbi Steven W. Engel. She strives to combine her two greatest passions, Judaism and music to create a vibrant and warm worship experience for all members of the CRJ congregational family. She completed the cantorial certification program through Hebrew Union College/School of Sacred Music in 2007. Cantor Jacki is a member of the American Conference of Cantors (ACC) and serves on its Executive Board in which she was recently nominated for a second three year term. She is a member of the Guild of Temple Musicians, the Florida Association of Cantors, Associates and Soloists (FOCAS), and the Women Cantors’ Network. She serves as the Secretary on the Board of the American Cantors Conference and is a member of Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando and the Community Council on Spirituality and Aging and along with Rabbi Engel, is a graduate of the 2010 cohort of the Kellogg School of Management’s Program for Jewish leaders. To further inform her work in the area of chant as a healing modality, Cantor Jacki recently completed the two year Kol Zimra program with Rabbi Shefa Gold in New Mexico. An advocate for personal growth and continued professional development, Cantor Jacki was accepted into her first unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Orlando Health.
She feels very strongly about the importance of Jewish musical and arts education for both adults and young people and strives to develop new ways to approach our rich and diverse cultural heritage with all members of the community. She is proud to have developed programs at CRJ that offer opportunities for congregants of all ages to explore their creative passions in a Jewish setting including the Temple Choir, Kol Tikvah (Voice of Hope) Junior and Youth Choirs, the Shirim Ensemble, and the new Jewish Theatre Collective.
Her love of lifelong Jewish learning and spiritual development is evident through educational programs, particularly connected with her work in the B’nai Mitzvah and Adult B’nai Mitzvah programs at Congregation of Reform Judaism. In 2005, Cantor Jacki produced the temple’s first congregational CD, Kol HaAm, a project which involved approximately forty congregants of all ages.