Rabbi Aaron Melman assumed the role of head rabbi at Congregation Beth Shalom in July 2015 and has served his congregation for over 21 years. He feels lucky to live in Northbrook, raise his family here, and be part of the Beth Shalom family. Rabbi Melman is married to Elisa Rotman, a social worker in private practice, and they have two children; Jordan, a freshman at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Hannah, a sophomore at Rochelle Zell Jewish High School.
Rabbi Melman is originally from Toronto where he graduated from York University with a BA in Judaic Studies. He attended The Jewish Theological Seminary where he received his ordination in May, 2002. While at JTS, Rabbi Melman taught Hebrew School and Hebrew High School at Or Zarua, a Conservative synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and served as a student chaplain with the New York City Fire Department (FDNY). Since 2002, he has served the Northbrook Fire Department as its first and only chaplain.
Rabbi Melman is involved in the community through the Northbrook Clergy Association, and serves on the Board of Directors of The Norton and Elaine Sarnoff Center for Jewish Genetics. He is a Past-President of the Chicago Region of Rabbinical Assembly and is a member of the Chicago Board of Rabbis. Rabbi Melman has also served as a guest lecturer over the past several years at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
Rabbi Melman considers the United States/Israel relationship very important to American Jewry and is very involved with AIPAC, serving on its National Council. Jewish camp is also very near and dear to Rabbi Melman’s heart. His children have attended Camp Ramah in Wisconsin over the past several years and he spends part of his summer there where he serves as Rabbi-in-Residence. Rabbi Melman is an avid traveler and feels fortunate to have led CBS congregants on trips to Israel and Cuba. Additionally, he is a proud supporter of his beloved Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Blue Jays.
Senior Cantor Steven Stoehr graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.A. in Creative Writing and Rhetoric. In 1988 he graduated the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and began his career thirty-six years ago at Congregation Beth Shalom of Northbrook, his first and only pulpit.
Cantor Stoehr is a past president of the Cantors Assembly of America and currently is president of the CA Foundation. In 2010 the CA presented him with the Samuel Rosenbaum Award for scholarship and creativity and in 2015 with the Moses Silverman Award for Service to the Assembly. In 2019 Steve traveled on a CA mission to Uganda to visit and study with the Abayudaya community.
Steven has edited numerous guides in the realm of mourning rites. He is the primary author of a Minyan of Comfort, a guidebook for leaders who conduct minyanim in a Shivah home. The FJMC translated their booklet into Spanish and French for the Masorti Movement. Steven was chosen the 2013 Masorti Olami Hiddur Mitzvah Honoree.
Steven was instrumental in creating a one-of-a-kind multimedia benefit concert for Violins of Hope in Chicago, 2023. This honored survivors of the Shoah and the miraculous restoration of instruments which were damaged during the era of the Holocaust.
A prolific writer of poetry and parody Steven has authored a novel, two children’s books, a musical drama titled The Lost Supper, and a touring show entitled The Clergy Boys while also having recorded three albums.
In the broader community Cantor Stoehr has established a chevre kaddishe; Selah, a community choir for adults with special needs; and HUGS, which attends to ritual experiences for the special needs Jewish community. On Friday afternoons he volunteers at a local Memory Care facility presenting Shabbat services for the residents.
He is blessed by his wife Susan, Jacob (Ilana), Talia, Alana and granddaughter Liv Hazel.
Rabbi David Shmidt Chapman joined the Congregation Beth Shalom clergy in 2022. He loves building creative, inclusive Jewish communities and joining seekers of all backgrounds on their Jewish journeys. David came to the rabbinate as a second career, after a decade as a theater director and several years in the Jewish nonprofit sector.
While working in theater, Rabbi Chapman worked on and off-Broadway and at prestigious venues around the world. He has performed his solo play Raoul
Wallenberg: Letters to Young Men, about the Holocaust-era “righteous
gentile” around the country. Rabbi Chapman received a Fulbright scholarship to study post-Cold War dramaturgy in Hungary and a Henry Luce Scholarship to spend a year in Vietnam teaching drama. He has also worked at the International Theater Institute at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. In 2014, David created and produced PEW-ish, an evening of short plays inspired by the (in) famous Pew Study, supported by the Schusterman Foundation.
After discovering his new vocation in the Jewish world, Rabbi Chapman
held leadership roles in several foundations making change through a Jewish
lens, including the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the New Israel Fund (NIF). With NIF, Rabbi Chapman spearheaded the NY region’s millennial outreach efforts and helped create public programs that engaged people in supporting social justice in Israel. During rabbinical school, Rabbi Chapman served as an intern at Sutton Place Synagogue in New York, Rosh Eidah (Division Head) at Ramah Day Camp in Nyack, NY, chaplain intern at Project ORE for the Homeless and the New Jewish Home eldercare facility, and student rabbi at Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation.
Rabbi Chapman holds a BA with Highest Honors from UNC-Chapel Hill, where he was active in Hillel and the Interfaith Campus Ministry, and a Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership from Fordham University. He received rabbinic ordination and a Certificate in Pastoral Care & Counseling from the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he was a Wexner Graduate Fellow. At JTS, Rabbi Chapman received the Cyrus Adler Prize for Most Outstanding Student in the Graduating Class and the United Synagogue Award for Congregational Service. Rabbi Chapman is also a member of ROI Network, a Jewish Week 36 Under 36 honoree, and a published author. He has participated in the Shalom Hartman Student Clergy Fellowship, the AIPAC Leffell Fellowship, and the iCenter Master’s Concentration in Israel Education.
A Chicago native, Rabbi Chapman feels blessed to be living in Northbrook
with his husband Jonathan and their two children.
Rabbi Carl Wolkin graduated from Columbia University in 1968 with a BA in Classics and received his rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1973. Before coming to Congregation Beth Shalom in 1980, he served as the Associate Rabbi of Temple Israel of Great Neck, NY from 1972-1980. In June, 2015, he retired after 35 years as the Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom, and now serves as Rabbi Emeritus.
In 2004, Rabbi Wolkin was in the first group of graduates of the Center for Rabbinic Enrichment of the Shalom Hartman Institute. This group of North American Rabbis completed a three year program of study both in Jerusalem and in the U.S. He also studied at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem in January, 2011.
During his tenure at CBS, Rabbi Wolkin has served as the President of the Chicago Region of the Rabbinical Assembly, President of the Chicago Board of Rabbis, and President of the Northbrook Clergy Association. He was President of the Community Mikvah of the Conservative Movement from its inception in 1998 until 2016. Rabbi Wolkin served for several years on the JUF Board.
In addition to being the Secretary of the World Council of Conservative/Masorti Synagogues, also called Masorti Olami, he has served as Rabbi-in-Residence of St. Albans Masorti Synagogue in the UK. In April 2016, he received the Rabbi Mordecai Simon Memorial Award from the Chicago Board of Rabbis. Recently Rabbi Wolkin was elected to the Board of the Rochelle Zell Jewish High School. For the High Holidays through Simchat Torah, 2018, Rabbi Wolkin served as interim Rabbi at Temple Adath Yeshurun in Syracuse, NY, his home congregation.
Rabbi Wolkin is married to Judy, and they have four children: Joshua and David and daughters-in-law, Aurelia and Keeli.