Second rabbi at Temple Sholom to promote family education

After years of working solo developing and coordinating a number of programs in the San Diego area, Rabbi Jay N. Miller is switching gears.

He has assumed the position of assistant rabbi and program director at Peninsula Temple Sholom in Burlingame.

Miller, 51, joined Senior Rabbi Gerald Raskin, replacing Rabbi Andrew Straus, who accepted a position as rabbi of Temple Emanuel of Tempe, Ariz. Straus has been rabbi-educator at Peninsula Temple Sholom for seven years. He was honored at a synagogue family service on May 29.

"I have known Rabbi Raskin for many years," said Miller, who has worn many hats with community organizations in San Diego, where he specialized in program development.

"I am very impressed with the members of this temple; they show a real commitment to community," he said.

Working as part of a team appeals to Miller. He will have a full range of rabbinic duties as well as opportunities to use his expertise on program development.

"I intend to look at age and interest groups in the synagogue," he said. "Developing programs that involve all age groups is important. I plan to be the focal point for people to articulate. People are full of ideas and need the support for them."

Discussing his work at the synagogue, Straus said, "The highlight of my career here has been the changing culture of the religious school, so family education and involvement are a part of what it means to be at Peninsula Temple Sholom."

Miller also has a strong background in education. A native Californian from Palm Springs, he graduated from U.C. Berkeley and was ordained by the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati in 1974.

For 20 years he served as Hillel director in the San Diego area. Miller was campus director at U.C. San Diego and San Diego State University. As area director he established a countywide Hillel agency.

He sat on a number of nonprofit boards, many of them oriented toward youth issues. Those included the San Diego Community Child Abuse Coordinating Commission on Youth and Children, the Cross Cultural Center Task Force at U.C. San Diego, and the San Diego County Commission on Youth and Children's subcommittee on adolescent issues.

In addition, he served on the board of directors for Planned Parenthood, San Diego and Riverside counties

For the past three years, Miller has been working independently on individual projects. He has been coordinator for the San Diego Rabbinic Association and chairman of the Clergy Coordinating Committee of the California Professional Society on the Abuse of Children. On that committee, he was involved in both organization and development work, creating workshops, statewide conference programs and staff training.

Since 1995, Miller has designed and implemented a high school youth program for various synagogues up and down the West Coast.

He also served as interim director of the National Conference of Christians and Jews in the area.

In addition, he has returned to his alma mater to do research at the Bancroft library on the Mark Twain papers. His objective has been to help create broader public awareness of the contents of the papers.

The rabbi moved north with his wife, Elise, an art reviewer, who has had a column in a San Diego magazine and the Los Angeles Times. She also served as coordinator of publications for student affairs at San Diego State University. She will work on independent projects in the Bay Area.

The Millers have two daughters: Corey, who graduated this year from U.C. Berkeley and left for Israel this summer; and Amy, a junior at the same campus, studying this year at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

At Peninsula Temple Sholom, said Miller, "I want to connect people who have common interests. We are looking to provide diversity and comprehensive programs for all members."

In addition to Miller's appointment, Yaffa Tygiel has been named as educator at Peninsula Temple Sholom. She will be principal of the religious school.