Last fall, Rabbi Joshua Golding took on the role of acting rabbi for Congregation Anshei Sfard, and recently he accepted the offer to continue in this position on a long-term basis.
Anshei Sfard President Dr. Roy Hyman said he is “absolutely thrilled” that Golding is going to remain as rabbi for the congregation.
“I couldn’t be happier,” said Dr. Hyman. “Rabbi Golding does everything well. He is very intelligent, knowledgeable and approachable. He wears many hats in this position. and he wears them all very well.”
Dr. Hyman explained that a national search was conducted after Anshei Sfard and Rabbi Avrohom Litvin, who had served as the congregation’s rabbi for 25 years, parted ways last year. He added that he is pleased that the search led the congregation to finding the best person for the job “right in our own backyard.”
Rabbi Golding is a long-time member and past president of the congregation, and over the years has been a regular part of the minyan, often leading parts of the service, serving as cantor, Torah reader and teacher. He is a professor of philosophy at Bellarmine University, specializing in philosophy of religion and Jewish philosophy. He carries a full teaching load and has served on Faculty Council.
Rabbi Golding holds a B.A., cum laude, in philosophy from Columbia University and a M.A. and Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh. He began his rabbinical studies at Yeshivat Sulam Yaakov in 2008-9, while he was in Israel for his sabbatical. He continued his studies long-distance and received his ordination in December 2011. Rabbi Golding and his wife, Ayala, have five children, ranging in age from 12 to 22 years old.
When Rabbi Golding was hired to serve as acting rabbi of Anshei Sfard in September 2013, he said he stepped into a position that he had never before considered.
“I never pictured myself in a community leadership role,” said Rabbi Golding. “When I earned my rabbinical degree I did not intend to be a pulpit rabbi. My goal was to increase my mastery of Jewish Law and Practices.”
Golding said over the course of the past eight months, he has grown more and more comfortable with his new position.
“It has been a challenge, but I feel like it is a great fit,” said Rabbi Golding. “I have found I can handle my duties as rabbi, in addition to working at my full-time career as a professor.
“I have a great working relationship with the board and staff,” Golding added, “and people seem to relate to my messages when I give sermons.”
Dr. Hyman said that Rabbi Golding’s abilities to teach and communicate so well with people are assets that will serve the congregation in its goal to expand its service to the entire community.
“We want Anshei Sfard to be a welcoming place where anyone who wishes to attend our services and programs feels comfortable,” Hyman commented.
Rabbi Golding said his core mission is “to strengthen the Modern Orthodox nature of the synagogue by encouraging new members.”
“My job is to keep the torch lit,” added Golding. “We want Anshei Sfard to be a vibrant, active place for Orthodox Jews to pray and a place of learning for the entire community.”
During Rabbi Golding’s first few months in his new leadership position, the level of activity at Anshei Sfard has been high. Services have continued on a daily basis and there have been musical performances, lectures and classes offered to its members, as well as the public.
Plans for summer programming are already in motion. In June, Rabbi Golding will begin a Hebrew language and prayer course for beginners, as well as those who wish to improve their skills in these two areas. Also, on June 3, Anshei Sfard will celebrate the festival of Shavuot with dinner and several lectures. The event will begin at 8:45 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 451-3122.
In August, a Torah Summer Institute will be offered with the assistance of five rabbinical students from out of town, who will be fellows-in-residence at Anshei Sfard for the entire month. Rabbi Golding said this institute will serve as a learning resource for anyone in the Jewish community.
“We will be offering classes and setting up study partnerships with these rabbinical students,” said Rabbi Golding. “We want people to take advantage of this wonderful resource. It is also a way for us to strengthen our services and do some outreach.”
Expanding educational opportunities for the Orthodox Jewish community, as well as the entire Louisville area, is an important goal for Rabbi Golding. He plans to work with Rabbi Evan Rubin to expand and strengthen The Aryeh Kaplan Academy and also explore the potential for starting a Jewish community day school.
“A community day school would be a private elementary school providing both a secular and Jewish education for the entire Jewish community,” Rabbi Golding said. “Ultimately, whatever form it takes, a successful and attractive Jewish day school is the only way we can secure a vibrant Orthodox Jewish community in Louisville.”