Rabbi Elhanan "Sunny" Schnitzer
Rabbi Elhanan “Sunny” Schnitzer is one of the few spiritual leaders in the country to hold a dual ordination as both Rabbi and Hazzan (cantor). Ordained as Rabbi by the Alliance for Jewish Renewal (ALEPH) and Rabbi Zalman Schachter Shalomi in 2010 and as Hazzan in 1997 by the Academy for Jewish Religion, Rabbi Schnitzer joined Bat Yam Temple of the Islands as Cantor in November 2022 and as Rabbi in May 2023. Prior to Bat Yam, Rabbi Schnitzer led the Bethesda Jewish Congregation from 2001 until June 2022. His first service with the congregation was on September 12, 2001, a memorial service for the victims of the attacks of September 11.
Rabbi Schnitzer has long believed that a congregation must be a healing presence in the world far beyond its walls. Rabbi Schnitzer is the Executive Director of the Cuba America Jewish Mission and is a leader in rebuilding the Jewish community on the island. With his leadership, dozens of congregational members have journeyed with him to Cuba since 2003.
Rabbi Sunny is also active in interfaith work and has been active with the Jewish Islamic Dialogue Society of Montgomery County, and is a member of Rabbis for Human Rights. He also is the first rabbi to worship with, and address, the Presbyterian Church USA General Assembly and is deeply engaged in continual dialogue with PCUSA in its approach to Israel-Palestinian relations.
Rabbi Schnitzer has served congregations in Virginia, Long Island, and Baltimore, MD, mixing both traditional and contemporary forms of worship. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Judaic Studies from Baltimore Hebrew University, where he received awards for scholarship and biblical text study and was class valedictorian. Rabbi Sunny has also served in the chaplaincy program at Sloan Memorial Cancer Center in New York City.
Rabbi Emeritus Stephen Fuchs
Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs is very proud to serve as Rabbi Emertitus of Bat Yam Temple of the Islands. He was Bat Yam's Rabbi from September 2017 through April 2023.
Interfaith understanding and cooperation has been one of Rabbi Fuchs’ highest priorities throughout his career. On Sanibel, he treasures the connection of Bat Yam and the church in which we share space, Sanibel Congregational UCC and its Pastors, Dr. John H. Danner and Reverend Deborah Kunkel.
Rabbi Fuchs is Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Beth Israel, West Hartford, Connecticut and the former President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. During his tenure with the World Union he spoke in 65 communities on five continents teaching and advocating for Progressive Jewish values and ideals.
Before coming to Congregation Beth Israel he served first as an intern and then as the first full-time Rabbi of Temple Isaiah in Columbia, Maryland and as the Senior Rabbi of The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom in Nashville, Tennessee.
Since 2014 Rabbi Fuchs and his wife Victoria have spent several weeks in Germany each year raising Holocaust awareness in secondary schools and speaking in synagogues, churches and universities. He has lectured each year to Rabbinical and Cantorial students at the Abraham Geiger College in Berlin. Rabbi Fuchs is the first rabbi to deliver a sermon in most of the German churches he has visited.
Rabbi Fuchs received his undergraduate degree at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. He holds both Bachelor and Master’s Degrees in Hebrew Letters, along with a Graduate Certificate in Jewish Communal Studies and rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. He also studied at Ulpan Etzion and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
In 1992 he earned a Doctor of Ministry degree (D.Min) in Biblical Interpretation from Vanderbilt University Divinity School. In 1999 the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion awarded him an honorary Doctor of Divinity (DD) degree.
In 2017, Vanderbilt University Divinity School named Rabbi Fuchs as its “Outstanding Alumnus of the Year.” It is the first time Vanderbilt has accorded this recognition to a Jew.
Rabbi Fuchs has served as an adjunct professor at the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia, University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford and the Hartford Seminary. He has also appeared frequently on radio and television to discuss currents events and issues of hunger, health care, the meaning of biblical stories and the similarities and differences between Judaism and other faith traditions.
Rabbi and Mrs. Fuchs are the proud parents of three children, three children-in-law and six grandchildren. He is the author of six books. The first of these, What’s in It for Me? Finding Ourselves in Biblical Narratives is available as an audio book and has been translated into German, Russian and Spanish