Rabbi Emeritus – Rabbi Gerald (Jerry) Brieger

Rabbi Jerry Brieger is Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Emanuel, having served as the guitar-playing spiritual leader of Temple Emanuel from 1977 to 2009.  A New York native, he graduated from City College with a degree in Electrical Engineering, then changed paths and was ordained at Hebrew Union College (HUC) in New York.  He then studied Talmud and Rabbinics in a PhD program at HUC in Cincinnati, where he also served as Music Director of the Temple Shalom Religious School. Rabbi Brieger also earned a Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Counseling from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and the Post Graduate Center for Mental Health.

 Rabbi Brieger has been on the faculty of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Camp Eisner in Massachusetts and was co-director of the International Torah Corps in New Hampshire for sixteen summers. He has also served as a Hebrew instructor for the HUC-JIR Cantorial program in New York.  As Rabbi of Temple Emanuel, he also taught adult education, Hebrew and Bar/Bat Mitzvah classes.

Rabbi Brieger has been active in the Greater New Haven Jewish community for many years.  He was a faculty member at Makom Hebrew High School. He has been both the chairperson and a member of the Greater New Haven Board of Rabbis, and the president and a board member of Jewish Family Services of New Haven.

In addition to his spiritual duties at Temple Emanuel, Rabbi Jerry is perhaps best known, particularly among the younger members of the congregation, as our resident magician and jokester. He is often seen pulling small objects out of children’s ears and can be heard telling inscrutable jokes such as the “Pencil Joke”: “your pens-vil  fall off if you don’t wear suspenders…”

In his retirement, Rabbi Brieger is learning to play the piano and tutoring two second-grade students at the Barnard School in New Haven as part of the Jewish Coalition for Literacy.

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