Ahavath Achim Hires New Associate Rabbi

Ahavath Achim Hires New Associate Rabbi

133-year-old Buckhead synagogue hires JTS graduate. Rabbi Sam brings great wisdom, skill and spiritual depth to our community.

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).

Minnesota native Rabbi Sam Blustin will join Ahavath Achim this July as associate rabbi.
Minnesota native Rabbi Sam Blustin will join Ahavath Achim this July as associate rabbi.

Ahavath Achim Synagogue will have a new associate rabbi starting July 1, according to president Mark Cohen. He said the synagogue secured an agreement with Rabbi Sam Blustin to assume the role this summer.

“Rabbi Sam brings great wisdom, skill and spiritual depth to our community, rounding off a very dynamic clergy team led by Rabbi Laurence Rosenthal and with the continued presence and support of Rabbi Neil Sandler. As is evident in his resume and was clear during his visit, Rabbi Sam has spent many years exploring his own spiritual life and how to share his teachings, learning and gifts with others. We are glad that he will be joining our spiritual family as he moves into this next stage of his wisdom-seeking voyage.”

Ahavath Achim went through a rigorous selection process that was coordinated with The Rabbinical Assembly and Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. The synagogue also implemented a detailed internal process that involved congregational surveys, interviews with clergy, staff and lay leaders, and then traveled to JTS in New York for face-to-face interviews with rabbinical candidates.

The new associate rabbi would round out a clergy team led by senior Rabbi Laurence Rosenthal.

Attorney Larry Gold, who chaired the search committee, said. “When we met Rabbi Blustin during those interviews, we were immediately impressed with his rabbinic skills, buoyant personality, his love of music and calm demeanor.  When we brought Rabbi Blustin down for a Shabbat weekend experience, he was simply fabulous, and everyone who met him came away with enthusiastic comments.  We feel very blessed to have found such a wonderful young rabbi to join our team.”

Along his own journey, Blustin served as the gabbai for the Women’s League Seminary Synagogue and the youth director at Ansche Chesed, a Conservative synagogue in Manhattan. He co-founded Shira b’Dira, a monthly traditional egalitarian singing and prayer community, and started Shomer Achi, a group for male-identified rabbinical and cantorial students at JTS to discuss how masculinity plays a role in how they lead and how they can be a better ally for women.

Blustin, originally from Minneapolis, is also a musician, composer and songwriter, composing mainly for liturgical settings. His thesis topic was on the theory and art of creating meaningful prayer experiences.

AA Synagogue in Atlanta, Ga

Cohen furthered, “Like the work of all {our} clergy, Rabbi Blustin’s portfolio will be dynamic. However, with Rabbi Rosenthal’s partnership, Rabbi Blustin will be focusing on our congregation’s spiritual life, delving into how we sing together, pray together, learn together and pass on the values and love for Judaism to the next generation. With full support of our board of directors, we welcome Rabbi Sam to our community and look forward to his involvement in our quest to create a community that honors and supports spiritual journeys.

Rosenthal, the senior rabbi, said, “I am excited about the gifts, talents and passion that Rabbi Blustin will bring to Ahavath Achim and look forward to our partnership in building a spiritual community of purposeful belonging.”

Ahavath Achim Vice President Gary Alembik added, “Blustin brings a new, youthful, fresh energy and perspective in being able to connect with congregants. He is also thoughtful and intellectual.” Alembik notes that Blustin has already started popular Zoom sessions after sundown on Saturday nights in which he shares music, learning and spirituality.

Blustin said that he intends to combine his talents in text study and counseling, and welcomes the challenges of being a pulpit rabbi.  “This allows me to put my stamp on the congregation, sharing congregants’ highs and lows, and contributing to the musical piece of our journey. I also want to specifically welcome the intergenerational layers of Ahavath Achim.”

Ahavath Achim Synagogue is one of the oldest congregations in Atlanta.

Blustin, who had only previously just passed through the Atlanta airport, participated in several Passover programs at Camp Ramah Darom in North Georgia. “I do love Southern accents and can’t wait to experience the good Atlanta weather.” In his spare time, he might be found on the golf course (scratch scoring), tennis courts or playing ultimate Frisbee.

He noted that two former longtime Ahavath Achim rabbis, Arnold Goodman and Neil Sandler, also hailed from Minneapolis. “We have to conclude that Minnesota puts out good rabbis!”

Ahavath Achim (Congregation of Brotherly Love) is located at 600 Peachtree Battle Avenue.

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