Rabbi Joe Rooks Rapport
In the community at large, Rabbi Rapport offers courses in Jewish philosophy at Bellarmine University and is often called upon to speak throughout the city. He was on the original planning committee for the new Rauch Planetarium and now serves as Chairman of its Advisory Board. He is a member of the University of Louisville Board of Overseers, and is involved in various interfaith and social action activities. He and Rabbi Rooks share a seat on the Board of Directors of the Center for Interfaith Relations and the Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light board. He is past chair of the Louisville Coalition for the Homeless, and Many People One Community, a diversity project of the NCCJ.
Within the Jewish community, he has served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Jewish Community Federation, and as president of the Kentucky Board of Rabbis and Cantors, and is a past chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council. Nationally, he is a contributor to Reform Voices of Torah, the URJ’s Torah Study and he was the chair of the Computers and Technology Committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.
In 2010, Rabbi Rapport was chosen to write the lead commentary on the Book of Leviticus for Reform Voices of Torah – a national podcast of the Union for Reform Judaism. In 2012, he produced TorahTecha: iBook Prayerbook – an interactive Hebrew prayerbook for use with the Apple iPad.
Education: Rabbi Rapport received his Ph.D. in American Jewish History in 1988 from Washington University in St. Louis and a Master of Arts in History from the same University in 1986. He is a graduate of the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati where he was ordained in June of 1984. He received his Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters from the Los Angeles campus of HUC, prior to which he spent a full year in Israel at the College’s campus in Jerusalem. In June 2009, the Hebrew Union College conferred a Doctor of Divinity honoris causa upon him in recognition of his 25 years in the rabbinate. In 2012, Rabbi Rapport received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Centre College for his work in The Temple Congregation and the community at large.
At the Hebrew Union College, he began his study of the American Jewish experience with his Rabbinic Thesis, a computerized collective biography entitled: “Notable American Jewish Women.” In addition, he has completed theses and major works on: American Involvement in the Holocaust, The Early Settlement of the Jews in Georgia, Fannie Hurst, Leni Riefenstahl, Local and Regional campaign Media, as well as various technical works in the field of computers and education.
His doctoral dissertation concerned Emma Lazarus, the American-Jewish poetess whose sonnet adorns the Statue of Liberty. Publications include: “The Roots of Reform in Louisville,” a scholarly review establishing The Temple among the founders of Reform Judaism; a biographical sketch of Louise Waterman Wise in the new Encyclopedia, Jewish Women in America, as well as various software titles in the area of Hebrew Language education.
Rabbi Rapport is married to Rabbi Gaylia R. Rooks, who is also a Senior Rabbi at The Temple. They are parents of two awesome young adults – Yael and Lev Rooks-Rapport.
Rabbi Rapport has served the congregation since 1988. He taught in a variety of adult education classes, as well as the Religious School’s sixth grade class and the High School of Jewish Studies, guiding The Temple Confirmation Class, and working closely with Bar and Bat Mitzvah students. Each summer, he works with Jewish children during a two-week session at Goldman Union Camp Institute in Zionsville, Indiana. He oversaw many congregational programs, serving as rabbinic liaison for the Brotherhood, The Temple Archives, and the Building Committee, among others. In all of these areas, he brings a particular commitment to social action and Tikkun Olam – repairing the world.