Dear Prospective Member,
First, let us say that we greatly respect the value that you place in being part of a synagogue community. The Jewish people, in general, are enriched by this commitment.
Second, we are so thrilled that you are looking at Temple Solel. As clergy, we are drawn to Temple Solel for so many reasons: the down-to-earth people, the desire to build a community where learning, praying, caring for one another and making a difference in the world are at the center, and a professional staff poised to welcome you and help open the multiple doors into a rich, Jewish life.
The following material will provide some valuable information. Most importantly, we would love to meet you in person, if we haven’t already. If you call or email our assistant, Mason, he’ll gladly set up a time for us to meet. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 480.991.7414.
All the best in your search for a spiritual home,
Rabbi John A. Linder, Rabbi Debbie S. Stiel, & Cantorial Soloist, Todd V. Herzog
The Mission of Temple Solel is to be a vibrant, inclusive and
engaged Reform community, grounded in relationships and deeds, and elevated by Shabbat and Torah.
Temple Solel is a growing, vital Reform congregation offering programs for all ages. Our name, Solel, tells something about our philosophy. Solel is a Hebrew word, which translated into English means “Pathfinder.” Since our founding in 1966, we have looked for fresh pathways and approaches to Jewish celebration, learning and living, while maintaining an abiding respect for traditional Jewish values.
Our building is fully accessible to the physically challenged with meeting rooms and the social hall frequently the site of programs and events in the larger Jewish community.
Temple Solel is a warm, friendly and nurturing congregation that we are proud to call home. We offer worship services, programming, social functions and volunteer opportunities for all age groups. Come
and explore the possibilities.
We are located at 6805 E. McDonald Drive in Paradise Valley. Though the temple’s address is in the town of Paradise Valley, just south of Lincoln, and just west of Scottsdale Road, we are also very close to South Scottsdale and East Phoenix. The McDonald exit off the 101 provides quick and easy access to Temple Solel from north Scottsdale as well.
Our Social Hall.
A celebration of a joyous event in one’s Jewish life cycle becomes a memory that lasts forever. These cherished events are brilliantly created in our elegant Sanctuary and Social Hall. Our spacious environment and surroundings become the perfect gathering places for special festivities such as a baby naming, bar/bat mitzvah, wedding and many other special simchahs.
Our Social Hall can accommodate any size gathering, since the hall can be divided to accommodate anywhere from 50 to
300 guests. When set up theatre style, the Social Hall can hold in excess of 900. A state-of-the-art sound system, a large parquet dance floor and a theatrically lit stage make this one of the finest facilities in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area. Also available for your use is a large courtyard adjacent to the Social Hall. Weather permitting, it can be used in conjunction with the Social Hall for your special event. Our staff can assist you in the planning for your simchahs and direct you to the many wonderful vendors our congregants have worked with to ensure very successful events.
Memories that last a lifetime take place in our beautiful synagogue. We look forward to planning and sharing your special simchah with you.
Temple Solel Library Temple Solel is fortunate to have a large number of volumes in our library covering a wide range of subjects. The library is open to all temple members and we encourage everyone to use it.
Temple Solel Gift Shop
Come visit the Temple Solel Gift Shop located in the temple foyer and enjoy one-stop-shopping for baby, b’nai mitzvah, wedding gifts, and holiday celebration items. Many of our pieces are from Israel! We are open each Friday prior to the service and on Sundays when Raker Religious School is in session.
Temple Solel’s services are warm and
welcoming. We offer a variety of worship
experiences recognizing the diversity of our
Friday Erev Shabbat Services attract a large number of worshippers. A light oneg precedes our 6:15 pm service. Our amazing onegs allow congregants and visitors the opportunity to socialize and gather in celebration of Shabbat. Torah Study is held Saturday mornings at Temple Solel during the year from 9:00 am to 10:00 am in the Library and also serves as a minyan for anyone saying kaddish. The group studies the parashat hashavua (weekly Torah portion). All are welcome.
Shabbat Morning Service is held Saturday mornings at 10:30 am when there is a congregational Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Dates for these Saturday morning worship services can be found on the temple calendar on the temple website.
Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies take place on Shabbat mornings and celebrate the “coming of age” of our children and their future in the Jewish community. Temple Solel B’nai Mitzvah conduct the majority of the service, read Torah, Haftarah, and offer a D’var Torah to the congregation.
Tot Shabbat Services are held throughout the year on Friday evenings or Saturday mornings for our youngest congregants and their families. This abbreviated service is highly participatory. Many times there is a family-style Shabbat dinner following the Friday services. Please contact Linda Irish in The Solel Preschool office for further information at email@example.com.
High Holy Day and Festival Services are dignified and moving worship experiences. For our Traditional Service we use Mishkan HaNefesh as our High Holy Day prayer book (machzor), and our adult choir enhances the beauty of our worship. We also offer alternative Contemporary Services which are creative and engaging. Lively and meaningful family services help our congregants celebrate the festivals. In addition, services are held on the last mornings of Sukkot and Pesach, with Yizkor services at appropriate times.
Life Cycle Celebrations
From birth to death, our life experiences are enriched as we celebrate together within the context of synagogue and community. Children are named in the sanctuary, consecrated when they begin Kindergarten in Raker Religious School, become bar or bat mitzvah around age 13, and celebrate confirmation at the end of the 10th grade. We anticipate their weddings in our Sanctuary and since death is an inevitable part of the life cycle, we have a Temple Solel section at Green Acres Cemetery in Scottsdale.
Do you enjoy singing? Join Cantorial Soloist Todd Herzog for our Adult Temple Solel Choir which performs at services throughout the year and during High Holy Days.
Art @ Solel*
Our mission is to explore, support and showcase existing Temple Solel Art. We catalog, update, care for, manage, show, and rotate the art to enhance our temple environment.
Come read for pleasure and join the Temple Solel Book Club for a potluck dinner and book discussion on books with Jewish subjects and/or by Jewish authors. Come be with friends, make new friends and eat yummy food. Check the calendar for our bi-monthly meeting times including book selections.
Working in conjunction with Rabbi Stiel, Temple Solel’s Caring Community provides support to our congregants in times of sorrow and in moments of joy. We serve as an extended family for our congregants who need emotional, physical and spiritual help by making phone calls and hospital visits; cooking and delivering meals; and sending cards.
If you are a single or married adult, with children who are no longer living with you, this group is for you! The group meets socially throughout the year.
Do you enjoy hiking and the outdoors? Our hiking club meets monthly on Sunday mornings from October through April. Usual hiking areas include McDowell Sonoran Preserve, South Mountain, Phoenix Mountain Preserve and Cave Creek Regional Park.
Knitting for a Purpose
Do you love to knit or crochet? Interested in knitting for a cause and meeting some wonderful people? Join us the second Wednesday of the month from 1:00–3:00 pm at Temple Solel. We will provide the yarn and
refreshments. Please bring along your needles and patterns. All are welcome, members and nonmembers alike!
The Temple Solel Library is a wonderful resource that is available to our entire congregation. The library symbolizes our heritage of a commitment to lifelong Jewish learning, reinforces all synagogue educational programs, and provides congregants access to excellent resources on all aspects of Judaism.
Men of Solel*
The goal of the Temple Solel Men’s group is to form lifelong friendships through social and educational activities while helping promote Jewish life and community. Come and socialize with your fellow congregants during happy hours, poker nights, scheduled speakers and more.
Come talk about movies with Jewish subjects and/or with Jewish actors and discuss them monthly with members of Temple Solel. Check out the weekly eNUZ for upcoming screenings.
Rosh Chodesh–A Women’s Group*
Women have historically celebrated Rosh Chodesh as a time to come together and explore and discuss relevant matters at the start of the new moon. Rosh Chodesh is literally translated as “head of the month,” and has existed as a women’s holiday. Spend an evening with women of Solel. We will meet once a month for a dairy potluck dinner and discussion, as we reflect the interests, personalities and passions of the women involved.
Sisters of Solel*
Women of Temple Solel are invited to reach out and meet new women through exciting programs and casual gatherings throughout the year. Women of all ages are encouraged to participate.
Social Action Committee*
Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World)
– Tzedakah (giving of resources)
– G’milut Chasadim (acts of loving kindness)
– Shinui Kivun (changing the status quo)
The Solel Preschool Parent Association (SPPA)
The SPPA group supports the preschool in all of its endeavors from fundraising to programming to appreciating our teachers. The goal of SPPA is to support The Solel Preschool through their time, talents, and dedication to foster an environment of learning, quality programming, and opportunities for professional development.
The Al and Irma Feldman Yiddish Club
The Al and Irma Feldman Yiddish Club meets the third Wednesday of each month beginning in the fall and is dedicated to the enjoyment of all aspects of Yiddish: language, music, song, literature, folklore, culture and films.
*Membership is required for participation
Temple Solel was established in 1966 by a group of 12 individuals living in the greater Phoenix area. This group shared a vision of a congregation committed to worship and education, hoping to remain a warm and personal community as it met its mission. While having grown exponentially, there is no doubt that Temple Solel has remained true to its original intention. In the ensuing years, Temple Solel has matured to what you see now, a progressive synagogue that blends Jewish values, ethics and traditions into a house of worship and community.
Who are the clergy of Temple Solel?
Rabbi John Linder, Rabbi Debbie Stiel, Emeritus Rabbi Maynard Bell, and Cantorial Soloist Todd Herzog comprise our clergy. You will find that it is easy to get to know the clergy by participating in projects, attending Shabbat services, taking classes and attending programs.
How can I become involved?
An indication of your interest will get you involved! When you complete the temple membership application, you will notice there is a section that inquires about your areas of interest. We encourage all members of the congregation to take an active part in temple life.
How are dues structured?
In addition to our standard dues that begin with Sustaining membership, we offer reduced dues for our younger members. Individuals or families who cannot meet our fees due to financial difficulties will find a sympathetic ear and the ability to make special arrangements. Temple Solel never turns anyone away due to an inability to afford the full membership dues.
What other kinds of activities can I expect to find at the temple?
Take a peek at the pages in the membership packet and you will see a variety of activities…for the youngest of our congregants to our seniors.
The Solel Preschool – A Welcoming Place to Play, Love and Grow
Our nurturing child-centered preschool serves over 200 students ages 6 weeks through 5 years. We offer care Monday through Thursday from 7:30 am – 5:30 pm and Fridays from 7:30 am – 4:00 pm. Our school year runs from August through May. When school is not in session, we offer fun and engaging Summer, Winter, and Spring Camps.
We offer a wide variety of activities for our students, including art, music, movement, water play, manipulative play, outdoor fun, language, quiet time, enrichment and much more! Our curriculum encourages children to be active learners who fully explore the world around them. Our Jewish heritage is at the heart of everything we do, as it provides our students with a source of identity and values.
Parent involvement is key in our community and we encourage parents to volunteer through our PAC (Parent Action Committee). We also hold monthly Tot Shabbat services and special holiday programs for the whole family throughout the year. The registration process begins each January for the following school year.
Registration is open to Temple Solel members in good standing first, followed by returning preschool families and then new families.
Want to know more? Check out our website for registration materials, pricing, curriculum overview, class options and much more. www.solelpreschool.org.
Contact our Preschool Director, Linda Irish, to schedule a tour by calling 480.991.4545.
Temple Solel’s Raker Religious School formal educational program begins with our Mazel Tots students and continues through high school. We explore the stories, values, and traditions that bring
students and families closer to their spiritual legacy. We strive to provide our students with interactive and challenging experiences that build a foundation of knowledge, relevance, and literacy. Every experience will emphasize the core values that we each bring from our diverse traditions and backgrounds.
Shabbat and holiday programs, worship, experiential learning, Hebrew, art, music, and family programs are all included in order to provide a well-rounded educational experience. It is our hope that families will become more engaged because of the course of study that their child is learning and bringing home.
Through the use of the Onward Hebrew program, Hebrew begins in our Mazel Tots and goes through grade 4. Common Hebrew words are introduced over and over, so that when the students learn how to decode, they can make a connection with the sound of a Hebrew letter to a word they already know. Decoding is introduced in grade 4. Grades 5/6 study the meaning of the prayers and liturgy and learn how to read from the prayer book, getting ready for B’nai Mitzvah tutoring. B’nai Mitzvah tutoring, separate from Raker Religious School classes, starts at the end of grade 6 or 7 depending on the B’nai Mitzvah date.
Mazel Tots: Temple Solel’s newest program is open to 3 year olds and 4 year olds (must be potty trained) and will be meeting weekly when religious school is in session. They will be actively engaged in discovering the joy of their Jewish identity. The children will begin to explore the Jewish holidays, Shabbat, Hebrew, and Israel throughout the year.
Raker Religious School Retreats: As an extension of the learning in the classroom, we go on a yearly youth retreat to beautiful Prescott, AZ, for an inspiring and camp-style weekend that reinforces friendships, helps to establish our community, and builds on the importance of experiential learning. The retreat is for grades 4-7.
Family Learning: PACT, or Parents And Children Together, will be held during the year for grades K-1, 2-3, 4-5, and 6—each group coming once for their day of learning during religious school hours. Dates for the PACT program are on the school calendar. The PACT program will consist of both parents and students studying the same subject—parents with the rabbis or community leaders and students with their teacher. After the study sessions, the parents and students will come together to complete a project and then finish the morning with T’filah.
One on One Hebrew: Scheduled for Wednesday evenings via Zoom, our students meet online with a Hebrew teacher for 25 minutes to catch up on Hebrew, move ahead in Hebrew, or learn conversational Hebrew. It is a first come, first serve (sign up registration online) class for 4th-6th grades. Classes start at 5:00 pm and the last class begins at 8:00 pm.
We have a variety of Adult Education opportunities offered at Temple Solel. Jewish education is a lifelong process and in that vein, Temple Solel offers a comprehensive Adult Education program with a wide range of appeal.
Adult B’nai Mitzvah
Temple Solel periodically offers an Adult B’nai Mitzvah class that focuses on both Hebrew and Judaic studies. The class is a two-year commitment that culminates in a B’nai Mitzvah ceremony where students have the opportunity to lead a Shabbat morning service and be called to the Torah.
Lunch and Learn
Explore the intersection of Jewish wisdom and everyday life with Rabbi Linder and others online.
Mini-courses are offered at various times
throughout the year. Clergy and staff teach
along with other talented individuals.
Our ongoing courses include a weekly Torah study prior to Saturday morning services.
Special Course Offerings
Special Course Offerings range from holiday workshops to Artist-In-Residence and Scholar-In-Residence visits. These are offered periodically throughout the year.
Rabbi John A. Linder
Rabbi Linder grew up in Buffalo, New York and considers himself a lifelong Buffalo-booster. Before coming to Temple Solel, Rabbi Linder served as a rabbi at Congregation B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim
in Glenview, Illinois. Rabbi Linder received a Masters in Hebrew Letters and was ordained at the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati in 2003. A 1980 graduate of Amherst
College with Cum Laude, Rabbi Linder became a rabbi at age 46 after earlier careers as a community and labor organizer and as an executive in his family’s scrap-metal recycling business in Buffalo. Rabbi Linder’s bride of over 30 years is Nancy Levy Linder, and their son, David, has a Master’s degree from Arizona State University.
Rabbi Debbie S. Stiel
Rabbi Debbie Stiel is thrilled to have joined Temple Solel in 2020. She came here after serving as the rabbi of Temple Beth Sholom in Topeka, Kansas for 14 years. She also served congregations in Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska, as well as Lawrence, Kansas. Rabbi Stiel was president of the Midwest Association of Reform Rabbis for 2 years and has been active in many community organizations. She was a founding member of the Topeka chapter of Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom
and also of Be the Bridge, a Topeka group created out of concern for local immigrants. She is an alum of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s clergy program and considers spirituality an important part of her rabbinate. In 2019 Rabbi Stiel received her honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Hebrew Union College for serving in the rabbinate for 25 years. Rabbi Stiel grew up in Dallas, Texas and received her bachelor’s degree from Rice University. She was ordained at Hebrew Union College in 1994. Debbie is married to Steve Stiel who has a private therapy practice here in Phoenix. They have two sons, Micah and Jonah, who are both in their 20s.
Cantorial Soloist Todd V. Herzog
Todd came to Temple Solel as our Cantorial Soloist in January 2008, following an amazing education and earlier music career. He earned a double Bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Tufts University and in music from the New England Conservatory of Music, where his focus was on Jazz Voice. He’d played violin in a community orchestra and sung in a rock band while still in high school, and went on to sing with the renowned Tufts a cappella group, the Beelzebubs. Eventually Todd added
songwriting to his resume, and as a result of working with children in the Jewish community setting and exploring life and spirituality as a result of both that and involvement in worship services, his first
album, Proverbs, was produced, and not long after, his second, Bridging the Gap. Bridging the Gap was Todd’s first complete venture into purely “Jewish” music, and it was met with both critical and
public acclaim and won Best Jewish Album of 2009 in the Just Plain Folks Music Awards. That was followed by the equally-successful album Everyday Blessings. Todd’s limitless talent encompasses a soaring and versatile singing voice, and fluency on acoustic, electric and bass guitars; piano, violin and saxophone. He enjoys working with children and in addition to his regular duties at Solel, which include “doing music” with our preschool and religious school students, Todd travels the country
doing concerts, services, and Artist-in-Residence weekends.
Executive Director Peter Pishko
Our Executive Director Peter Pishko comes from the secular for profit world and brings years of organization and management consulting to Temple Solel. Peter, a member since 2012, also served on the Temple Solel Board of Trustees. In addition to lay leadership positions at Solel, Peter has been involved in the greater Jewish community with LimmudAZ and is a season pass holder for Valley Beit Midrash. Originally, from Albany, New York, attended the University at Albany. After 15 years of working in New York City, Peter relocated to the Valley of the Sun in 2007. Peter is a member of the National Association for Temple Administration (NATA).
Director of Raker Religious School Tobee Waxenberg
Tobee began her teaching career as a high school Debate Coach and Sociology teacher. Upon moving to Phoenix, she established the Jewish Resource Center and became a member of Temple
Solel. Over the years at Solel, Tobee taught eighth grade, Confirmation, ran the summer camp, and was principal of Raker Religious School. She taught pre-K for one year in The Solel Preschool and then moved on to the Solel School and taught Kindergarten for seven years. Once the Solel School became the Pardes Jewish Day School, Tobee opened the middle school and had the pleasure of being at Pardes for twenty-five years. Since retiring from Pardes, Tobee is very fortunate and excited
to become Director of Raker Religious School, where the students are happy and the teachers are the best! Tobee has been a member of Temple Solel since 1980. Her son Andy had his Bar Mitzvah and Confirmation here as well as her daughter Natalie. Andy is married to Hallie and has two daughters, Lily and Ella.