Bio of Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

Contact Rabbi Joshua Hammerman:

(203) 322-6901 x 307 - office telephone

Substack column: On One Foot: A Rabbi's Journal - A Mensch's Guide to Life

From YouTube: Two Part Interview on J.B.S.


Joshua Hammerman, a celebrated rabbi and award-winning journalist, author and blogger, has served Temple Beth El in Stamford, Connecticut, for over three decades. 


As Temple Beth El’s spiritual leader - now assuming the role of rabbi emeritus - he has focused his efforts on creating an oasis of warmth, love and mutual respect, befitting the role of a modern congregation in an increasingly complex world.

Rabbi Hammerman won, in 2019, first prize for excellence in commentary from the Religion News Association.  He has also won the Simon Rockower award for commentary, the highest honor in Jewish journalism, for his 2008 columns on the Bernard Madoff case, which were discussed widely in the media.  In 2018, he received an additional award from the Religion News Association for excellence in commentary, for articles written for the Washington PostNew York Jewish Week, and JTA

His articles have appeared widely (see many of them on his blog), and his column, “On One Foot,” appeared regularly in The New York Jewish Week for 25 years. He also is a regular blogger for the Times of Israel and writes frequently for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) and the Religion News Service (RNS).  

Among his many published personal essays are several written for the New York Times Magazine and Washington Post.  He has been featured as's Conservative representative in its "Ask the Rabbi" series and as "The Jewish Ethicist," fielding questions on the New York Jewish Week's website.

Rabbi Hammerman was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1983 after receiving a master’s degree in journalism from N.Y.U. and a B.A., magna cum laude, from Brown University, where he twice won the university’s prestigious Bishop McVickar Prize in Religious Studies.  He came to Temple Beth El as its assistant rabbi in 1987 and became senior rabbi in 1992.  In 2010, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from JTS for his years of service to the Jewish people.

Rabbi Hammerman strives to challenge congregants — and himself — to reach ever higher in setting spiritual and ethical objectives, and to delve more deeply into the rich vein of Jewish inspiration and wisdom available to us.  He has been a champion of inclusiveness and innovation in synagogue life, implementing programs like Synaplex and Shabbat Unplugged while embracing people of all backgrounds and faiths.


His most recent book, Embracing Auschwitz: Forging a Vibrant, Life-Affirming Judaism that Takes the Holocaust Seriously, has been hailed as “ by far the most original book on (the Holocaust) that has come along in a great many years.” See the press release from the Religion News Service. Author Peter Beinart calls it, “A powerful meditation on what Judaism could be in this time,” and Senator Richard Blumenthal adds, “With immense insight and unstinting honesty, this work looks hard at the Holocaust’s enduring meaning for Jewish identity and the world.” And Rabbi Dr. Irving (Yitz) Greenberg, the dean of post-Holocaust theologians, calls it "an important book and should be read by every Jew who cares about Judaism."


See other reviews and endorsements, along with a discussion guide, and an excerpt in the NY Jewish Week.



His prior book, Mensch-Marks: Life Lessons of a Human Rabbi - Wisdom for Untethered Times, was published by HCI books in 2019. See the discussion guide and an overview of the book.  Among the glowing reviews and endorsements, Daniel Gordis, author of ISRAEL: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn wrote, “In this age, when leadership and morality often seem to have nothing in common, Rabbi Joshua Hammerman offers us a window into a deeply-lived life. From a genuine mensch, we learn what it is to live a life measured by moral growth and devotion to people and causes beyond us. Reading Mensch•Marks  is bound to leave us all determined to live better lives and be better people.” 

Rabbi Hammerman also is a contributing author to the new collection, Holding Fast: Jews Respond to American Gun Violenceand to the book, When We Turned Within: Reflections on COVID-19During the harsh months of lockdown and uprising that have marked the Covid pandemic, Rabbi Hammerman's regular dispatches, "From the Rabbi's Bunker," and "In this Moment" have provided comfort and inspiration to his congregants and many other readers.

He is the author previously of Seeking God in Cyberspace  (read an excerpt) and contributor to the children’s bookI Have Some Questions About God, and the collections Text Messages: A Torah Commentary for Teens, and Peace in Our Cities: Rabbis Against Gun Violence.

During his time at Temple Beth El, Rabbi Hammerman has been president of the Interfaith Council of Southwestern Connecticut and the Stamford Board of Rabbis, a chaplain for the Stamford Police, and a member of the pastoral advisory committee of Stamford Health Systems.  He also has served on the Rabbinic Leadership Council, a select group of rabbis chosen by Chancellor Arnold Eisen of the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), and he has been a member of the faculty of CLAL, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.  In addition, he has been heavily involved in many Jewish think tanks, including JESNA’s Jewish Education 3.0 project, STAR-Tech and Synaplex.

Rabbi Hammerman is an avid fan of the Red Sox, Patriots and all things Boston; he also loves a good, Israeli hummus. He is an active alum of Brown University, often conducting alumni interviews for prospective students.  He lives in Stamford with his wife, Dr. Mara Hammerman, a psychologist.  They have two grown children, Ethan and Daniel, along with Cobie, Casey and Cassidy, three standard poodles.

Photos by Aviva Maller Photography