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Rabbi Rachel Gartner

Rabbi Rachel Gartner joined our leadership team at Shirat HaNefesh in July of 2022. She is invested in a Judaism that guides and equips us to deepen wisdom, relish joy, endure pain, access courage, grow compassion, and pursue righteousness and wholeness within, between, and among us all. She looks forward to accompanying the community — and its members — in finding fulfillment, offering their gifts, and expressing the song of their souls at every stage of life.

Earlier, Rabbi Gartner served 11 years as director for Jewish Life at Georgetown University and university faculty lecturer. She still serves as Senior Advisor to Spiritual Care for Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies, remains on the leadership team of In Your Shoes, a project in Theatrical Performance and Dialogue, of Georgetown’s The Lab for Global Performance and Politics, and teaches for Georgetown University’s Prisons Scholars Program.

Rabbi Gartner is co-author of “Rosh Hodesh: It’s A Girl Thing!”, Moving Tradition’s nationally acclaimed sourcebook. She has written opinion pieces for the Huffington Post, The Hill, and the Washington Post, and national Jewish media. Television and radio appearances include CNN and NPR’s 1A.  

Inspired by Jewish music of every kind, and by the varied paths to Jewish expression, Rabbi Gartner has led a broad range of Jewish communities.  She was ordained with awards in Spiritually Motivated Social Action, and Practical Rabbinics from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2002. She first served on the rabbinic team at Reconstructionist Synagogue Bnai Keshet, of Montclair, NJ. 

Rabbi Gartner also served as a fellow of three distinguished cross-denominational rabbinic programs. She was the Marshall T. Meyer Rabbinic Fellow at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, NYC (hear her on their CD here), a Cooperberg Rittmaster Rabbinic Fellow at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, and the Pardes Rabbi as Rodef Shalom (Pursuer of Peace) Community of Practice. She is a past co-chair of the national board of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.

Rabbi Gartner has certificates in mediation and dialogue facilitation from the Conflict Resolution Center, Richmond, IN, the Institute for Sustained Dialogue, Washington, DC, and Resetting the Table, NYC. She lives in the District with her family. 

Contact her on email via  

Janet Braun, CMP, CVEP


Janet Braun stepped into the role of coordinator in 2019.  She handles the weekly newsletter, room reservations at the Church, the kiddush/oneg calendar, the membership directory, and numerous other tasks.  Please send her items for the newsletter, and contact her directly with questions at

founding clergy

Rabbi Gerry Serotta

After six years as the founding rabbi of Shirat HaNefesh, Rabbi Gerry Serotta served as Executive Director of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington from 2014 through 2020, where he continued his work as a leading voice for interfaith cooperation, religious freedom, and human rights. Rabbi Serotta has served as Executive Director of the interreligious organization Clergy Beyond Borders, Associate Rabbi of Temple Shalom in Chevy Chase, and director of the Hillel Foundation at George Washington University. He was the founder and chair of Rabbis for Human Rights – North America, and he chaired the Board of Chaplains of George Washington University.

Rabbi Serotta has received many awards for his communal work. He was named a Public Policy Conflict Resolution fellow by the University of Maryland School of Law and served as a senior rabbinic scholar in residence at the Religious Action Center of the Union for Reform Judaism. Rabbi Serotta received a master’s degree in Hebrew Literature from Hebrew Union College, a Master of Sacred Theology from New York Theological Seminary, and an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Hebrew Union College. He is married to Dr. Cynthia J. Arnson. We’re delighted that Rabbi Gerry and Cindy remain members of the congregation.

Hazzan Dr. Ramón Tasat 

Born in Buenos Aires, Hazzan Ramón Tasat served as founding cantor for the congregation’s first 15 years. He learned Ladino, the language of the Sephardic people, at his grandmother’s knee. Trained in five different countries, he received a doctorate in voice performance from the University of Texas at Austin. Hazzan Tasat toured Europe with the world-renowned Dr. Robert Shaw and has sung at international festivals on both sides of the Atlantic. He has also appeared in operas from “Le Nozze di Figaro” to “La Traviata.”

Hazzan Tasat has served as director of the Cantorial School at the Academy for Jewish Religion, musical advisor of the Berkeley Richmond Jewish Music Festival, board member of the American Friends of Neot Kedumim and the president of Shalshelet: The Foundation for New Jewish Liturgical Music. He also leads the Kolot HaLev Community Choir. His numerous recordings range from Fiesta Sefarad to Teshuva, Kantikas di amor i vida, with the late Sephardic singer Flory Jagoda, and Yom SheKulo Shabbat. He has also published several books on Jewish music.

Mon, August 8 2022 11 Av 5782