CLERGY AND LITURGICAL STAFF
Principal Rabbi Neil Amswych
Rabbi Neil Amswych came to Santa Fe following nearly ten years as the principal rabbi of Bournemouth Reform Synagogue in England. He studied Astrophysics at St. Andrew’s University in Scotland before beginning his rabbinic education at Leo Baeck College. While spending his third year at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia, he met his wife, Jenny, who was also a student there.
They married in 2004 and have two beautiful children: a daughter, Zafra, and a son, Asher. They also have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel called Parker and a scruffy stray called Pym making them a global family: an American Mum, a British Dad, dual-citizen children, and a Welsh dog and an American dog! Rabbi Neil’s rabbinic thesis was an exploration of bipolar gender boundaries and transsexual surgery in a Jewish context, a topic he has spoken on at the Temple and elsewhere. In 2007, he founded IDEA: Interfaith Dorset Education and Action, which became the South of England’s largest interfaith environmental network and for which he was nominated for a National Leadership Award.
He joined Temple Beth Shalom in the summer of 2014 and within a year became the President of the Interfaith Leadership Alliance of Santa Fe.
He was instrumental in organizing the 1500-person Rally Against Racism in the Plaza in the summer of 2017. Under his leadership, some communities in the ILA, including Temple Beth Shalom, housed homeless young adults during the winters of 2017 and 2018 to protect them from the cold and other dangers.
A keen environmentalist and also advocate for social justice, Rabbi Neil has spoken many times publicly against bills in the legislature that would have allowed for religious discrimination against LGBTQ individuals, plans by the local energy company to remain with coal and not invest in solar power, and also against the local Public Education Department’s plans to remove or minimize references to the age of the earth, to evolution and to anthropogenic climate change in the science curriculum. He regularly speaks on interfaith panels in various venues.
Rabbi Neil hosts a radio show called “Soul Searching” on the local radio station KSFR, in which he interviews local clergy and academics on the deeper questions of meaning. He believes that for Judaism to survive in the 21stcentury, it needs to develop an exciting new theology and praxis, and his work at Temple Beth Shalom is bringing that to the fore in engaging ways. A keen board game player, and avid fan of Star Wars, Rabbi Neil is also working on his first book regarding a very new approach to environmental theology.
Rabbi Emeritus: Marvin Schwab
Known affectionately to the Temple Beth Shalom Youth Group as "Rabbi Gadget," Marvin Schwab has been called the only rabbi who can save your soul and your hard drive on the same day. He may also be the only rabbi who has been certified by General Motors in tune-ups, carburetors and alternators. His undergraduate degree was in Zoology with the equivalent of a minor in Chemistry.
He was also certified as a Medical Technologist by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists and the State of California. Despite this unlikely background, he was ordained as a rabbi by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati after attending campuses located in Jerusalem (where he lived for one year), Los Angeles, and Cincinnati, Ohio. He holds a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters and in June of 2010 was granted an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by HUC-JIR in Los Angeles in recognition of his 25 years of service. Rabbi Schwab came to Temple Beth Shalom on August 1, 2001, a date which is all too easy to remember because the special service organized to greet him was planned for September 11, 2001. He co-founded the Interfaith Leadership Alliance (ILA) of Santa Fe and is an active advocate for social justice.
Rabbi Emeritus: Ben Morrow
In his 90 years on the planet, Ben Morrow survived two plane crashes, crushing heartaches and several bouts with cancer — living a life so big and bold that maybe an action hero like Harrison Ford could’ve played him in the movie.
“Yes,” said Morrow’s friend, Rabbi Marvin Schwab, “if Harrison could do that with great intellect.”
Described as a man of determination, compassion and contemplation, Morrow — a rabbi emeritus at Temple Beth Shalom and a presence in the Santa Fe community for many years. Friends and colleagues said his death leaves a huge void on a variety of fronts.