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Fostering and enriching Jewish living throughout Greater New Milford -- through empathy, wisdom, integrity, and partnership.

Norman Koch, Rabbi

Photo- Rabbi Norman KochIt is with great sadness that we note the passing of our long-time spiritual leader, Norman Koch, in February 2015. Rabbi Koch had retired and assumed the role of Rabbi Emeritus as of July 2014.

Rabbi Norman D. Koch was ordained in 1979 at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, the same year in which he became Temple Sholom’s spiritual leader.

Rabbi Koch took great pride in the long-term relationship he and the Temple Sholom Family share.  It is in these manifold interpersonal relationships between Rabbi and Congregants wherein the special strengths of our Community can be found. Perhaps Rabbi’s strongest skill (among many) was his ability to relate Torah to our daily lives.  He believed his responsibility was to teach Jewish tradition in such a way that it offers people the tools and opportunities to fulfill their responsibilities as 21st century American Jews.

Rabbi Koch has often mused that he is a go-between bringing Jews and Judaism closer to each other.  He was fond of citing Rabbi Tarfon:  “It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task.  Yet, neither are you free to desist from engaging in the task.”  (Pirkei Avot, 2:21)    His leadership on tikkun olam b’malchut Shaddai was evident in our very active Social Action Committee.  In addition, Rabbi Koch was a driving force behind our nationally recognized education program, created a ritual practice that is sensitive to the full range of Jewish observance, and formed a true community that has enabled us to be the small synagogue that dreams big and succeeds far beyond is size.

Known and respected as a leader with steadfast convictions and a passion for social justice, Rabbi Koch was an active member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) and a past president of its Northeast Region.  He was active in the New Milford Clergy Association, served on the Medical Ethics Committee at New Milford Hospital, was a member of the Ethics Commission of the Town of New Milford, and served on many committees, commissions, boards, and organizations in the greater New Milford community as well as in the local, regional, and national Jewish communities.  Rabbi Koch often served these organizations in leadership positions.  He had, for decades, served on the faculty of the URJ’s Eisner Camp in Great Barrington, MA and numerous NFTY Northeast Institutes. 

Rabbi Koch, born in Brooklyn, was raised in Cortlandt Manor, NY, where his family was very active in the local Reform synagogue. He lived in New Milford with his wife Roz. They have five children and five grandchildren.

Photograph of Rabbi Koch courtesy of Nelu Grinberg

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