When Tehillah’s Board of Directors welcomed Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn as its new spiritual leader in 2008, it had thoughtfully chosen a candidate with decades of experience as a Jewish educator, professional leader, and communal leader—and an unofficial counterpart. Training and guiding the synagogue’s Torah readers, Rabbi Linda’s husband, David, has been an integral part of Tehillah’s Shabbat services, High Holy Day services, and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.
In Rabbi Linda’s tenure, Tehillah has remained an inclusive Jewish congregation with an emphasis on the spirituality of music in prayer, tikkun olam, and study. It has benefited from her scholarship and partnerships forged not only with other local Jewish leaders but also with leaders of other religions. Rabbi Linda serves as Head of the Interfaith Clergy Conference of Riverdale, Kingsbridge, and Spuyten Duyvil. Her notable outreach to the Masjid Al-Iman mosque in Parkchester has deepened the cultural awareness of our Hebrew School students. Solidarity with Muslim students through charitable projects and celebrations has complemented their firm grounding in Torah, the Hebrew language, and lifecycle events.
Apart from David’s considerable roles at Tehillah, he is President of TEND Strategic Partners, a company that helps business professionals and their teams to improve their strategic decision-making. David also hosts a related podcast, Smashing the Plateau, in which his interviews with business experts uncover methods for circumventing roadblocks to the attainment of professional goals.
This career and an Executive Education program at Columbia Business School reflect a unique evolution from David’s origins in chemical engineering. He has a BS from Lafayette College, was a Fulbright-Hayes Scholar at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, and has an MS from Cornell University in the field.
At the time of their marriage, and following her BA in Drama from Franklin and Marshall College, Rabbi Linda was pursuing an MA in Theatre Education at Emerson College and David was working as a chemical engineer in Boston. However, four years later, David assumed the role of Executive Director of Ansche Chesed in New York. While teaching at Havurah School, an arts-based Hebrew School, Rabbi Linda created programs at Ansche Chesed, including an arts festival and a comedy series for singles.
After years of increasing leadership roles in the Jewish community, Rabbi Linda chose to pursue rabbinic studies. Of her time in a leadership role at the Covenant Foundation, while attending rabbinical school, Rabbi Linda concludes, “I was blessed to be working in furthering innovation in Jewish education while being seeped in and studying the tradition.”
Rabbi Linda notes that her Jewish inheritance began with her first and greatest teacher, her father. When she received her Rabbinic ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion with her mother, Herta, in attendance, it had been over 80 years since her grandmother in Berlin puzzled over a Jewish instructor for Herta who self-identified as a Rabbi—because the instructor was a woman. In fact, Regina Jonas was the first woman to be ordained as a rabbi, and Rabbi Linda was now “part of that tradition as a teacher and a guide,” knowing “the treasure that is a living, breathing, ever-evolving Judaism.”
Rabbi Linda’s first pulpit was at Congregation Mount Sinai in Brooklyn Heights, where she served as Assistant Rabbi for two years. Encouraged to apply for the position at Tehillah, she was struck by the warmth of the community and its passion for praying together through music. Rabbi Linda conceives of Tehillah as “a hearth fire that warms all who come near, from wherever they originate—recognizing and appreciating people’s differences and honoring various paths with multiple ages teaching one another.”
Rabbi Linda and David’s partnership originated in Brooklyn. They met there in 1978 at a holiday party and have been together ever since. The couple’s 38th year of marriage has been a momentous one: in recent months, they have celebrated the wedding of their daughter, Kayla, to Hubert Saladino and the engagement of their son, Elliot, to Judy Blumenthal.