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Rabbi PJ Schwartz

Phone: 408-358-1751 x3

Rabbi PJ SchwartzHello! I am PJ Schwartz, Associate Rabbi Educator at Congregation Shir Hadash. My passion is engaging youth and their families.  I am proud to lead Kulanu: The Center of Jewish Education and Engagement for Youth and Families, in Memory of Mel Jacobs, our dynamic learning and living programs for youth and families. 

I believe that working collaboratively with families is essential to maintaining a program that adapts to meet the needs of today's families. By striving each year to create meaningful and fun experiences for our youth from preschool to high school we can lay the foundation of Reform Jewish values and instill a love of social justice, community building, and Judaism. I am most inspired by the incredible young leaders in our congregation whose enthusiasm and volunteering are what keep me motivated and positive about the future.

Temple Role/Responsibilities

As a member of the clergy team at Shir Hadash, I invest heavily in creating relationships with members of the congregation, including adults and children. I lead our formal and informal Youth Education Programs. I also partner with Cantor Felder-Levy in leading worship services, officiating life-cycle events, visiting members for pastoral care, and providing staff leadership for committees. I officiate at interfaith weddings under certain criteria - click here for more information: Interfaith Wedding Criteria (PDF).

Community Involvement

I am an active member of the Cantors and Rabbis Association of Greater San Jose, and a member of Bay Area Reform Jewish Educators. I also frequently contribute to the Union of Reform Judaism's weekly e-newsletter, Ten Minutes of Torah. I also am a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), and the Association for Reform Jewish Educators (ARJE).  

Background and Biography

  • Ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Cincinnati, OH in June 2013 and was the recipient of the Ferdinand M. Isserman Prize.
  • Received a Master's in Educational Administration with a Specialization in Jewish Education at Xavier University in 2011.
  • Received a Certificate in Jewish Education with a Specialization in Adolescents and Emerging Adults through HUC-JIR in 2016. 

I wrote my rabbinic thesis on the traditional and contemporary understandings of kavannah (intentionality, thoughtfulness, and devotion) in Jewish worship. I was awarded the title of “Reform Jewish Educator” by the Association of Reform Jewish Educators in 2013.

I grew up in Greenville, SC and I am a 2007 graduate of the College of Charleston, where I majored in Religious Studies. In college, I served as a board member of the Jewish Student Union/Hillel as well as was on the executive committee of the local chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity.

I was proud to serve as a teacher, assistant youth group advisor, and Religious Studies intern at Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim. Following my college graduation, I began rabbinical studies at HUC-JIR in Jerusalem, Israel, before returning to the Cincinnati campus to finish my studies. I am married to my college sweetheart, Michelle, a special education teacher, and am dog-father to a cocker spaniel named Penny, and father to my son, Jonah, born in June 2020.

Sat, May 18 2024 10 Iyar 5784