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Rabbi Debra Stahlberg Dressler

Rabbi Debra Stahlberg Dressler

Rabbi Debra Stahlberg Dressler is the second spiritual leader to serve Temple Israel. She succeeded founding Rabbi Joel Wittstein (z”l) in June of 2010.

Rabbi Dressler was ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati in 2009. During her seminary years, she served student pulpits in Pine Bluff and Hot Springs Arkansas as well as an internship with Isaac. M. Wise Temple in Cincinnati. Her work has focused on lifelong Jewish learning, especially adult education. Her Rabbinic thesis was titled, “Refugee Rabbis from Nazi Germany in America.”

Rabbi Dressler is a co-founder of the London Interfaith Peace Camp, an award-winning collaborative community project that encourages understanding and cooperation among Jewish, Christian, and Muslim youth.  

The rabbinate is a second career for Rabbi Dressler. Prior to her work in the Jewish community, she had a career in direct marketing and magazine circulation. Rabbi Dressler holds a bachelor of science in economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

A native of Lansing, Michigan, Rabbi Dressler has three children. She and her family are greatly enjoying their adopted home in Canada.

Rabbi Joel Wittstein (z”l)

Rabbi Joel Wittstein (z”l) and Ailene Wittstein

Rabbi Joel Wittstein and Ailene Wittstein

Temple Israel’s founding rabbi, Rabbi Joel Wittstein (z”l), led our congregation from 1987 until his death in January, 2010.

A native of Cincinnati, Rabbi Wittstein originally studied to become a teacher. He began his rabbinic studies in Israel in the early 1960s, but would not complete them until 1975. In the interim, he received a Fulbright Fellowship to study and teach Classics and Latin in Greece and moved to Israel to continue writing poetry.

Rabbi Wittstein returned to Cincinnati to serve as the Director of Education at Isaac Wise Temple. With his office temporarily located in Hebrew Union College, he decided to time was right to continue his rabbinic studies.

Rabbi Wittstein devoted the next few years to Jewish education. He was a Past President of NFTY (National Federation of Temple Youth) and Past President of NATE (National Association of Temple Educators.)

He met his wife Ailene, also a Jewish educator, in Cincinnati. The couple married in 1981 and travelled across North America doing seminars for Reform Jewish educators before moving to northern Michigan to open a bed-and-breakfast.

As the spiritual leader of Temple Israel, Rabbi Wittstein made a lasting contribution to the Jewish community in London and beyond. Under his leadership, our congregation grew from 40 families to 140.  

Rabbi Wittstein is also remembered for his interfaith and interdenominational work, which continues today. He was a co-founder of the Centre for Catholic-Jewish Learning at King’s University College at Western University, and established Abraham’s Café to foster dialogue and understanding between Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Learn more about our remarkable founding rabbi.

Mon, 17 June 2024 11 Sivan 5784