Not all synagogues have the pleasure of employing a rabbi who’s also a professional artist and black belt who teaches karate. But for Roland Park’s Congregation Beit Tikvah, this just became a reality.
Rabbi Douglas Heifetz joined the congregation in July to lead monthly Shabbat services, High Holiday services and to facilitate discussions and art programming. Originally from St. Louis, Heifetz moved to Philadelphia in 1999 to study at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. After becoming ordained, he moved to Maryland, where he worked as a rabbi at Oseh Shalom in Laurel for 11 years, before leaving in July 2017.
“I have very warm feelings about that community, but I was ready to do other things,” Heifetz said.
In the months between leaving Oseh Shalom and starting at Beit Tikvah, Heifetz said everything changed dramatically.
“I wanted to pursue art and entrepreneurship. I run a little company called Lost and Forged, a sort of artisan metalwork company.” With Lost and Forged, Heifetz repurposes old and discarded metal objects, and creates everything from rings to home decor to Judaica and sells them online and at local markets. Although he achieved black belt status at 18, being a karate instructor is also a new endeavor.
“It’s been really fun and exciting,” he said.
While Heifetz lives in Silver Spring, he is not entirely unfamiliar with the Baltimore Jewish community. As president of the Washington Board of Rabbis from 2014 to 2016, he took part in annual days of learning that brought the Washington and Baltimore boards of rabbis together. When the opportunity to reconnect with Charm City came about, Heifetz felt Congregation Beit Tikvah was a perfect fit.
Heifetz is getting acclimated to his new setting and meeting members of the community, all while writing sermons and making arrangements for music at the High Holidays services.
“It’s seems like a very friendly community, a somewhat artistic community that’s open-minded,” he said. “I’m excited to have a stronger connection to Baltimore.”