Rabbi Laurence Milder was installed as spiritual leader at Congregation Beth Emek in Pleasanton last weekend in a Shabbat service on Saturday presided over by Rabbi Avi Shulman of Fremont's Temple Beth Torah and then a special concert Sunday evening.
The concert in Milder's honor featured the Josh Nelson Project, one of the most popular acts in modern Jewish music. A multi-instrumentalist and prolific songwriter, Nelson's music is celebrated and integrated in congregations and communities around the world.
Milder, an accomplished guitarist, himself, performed with Nelson for a few songs. Then Nelson filled the room with music for the next 75 minutes with Beth Emek packed with congregants rocking and rolling well into the evening.
Milder, a native of St. Louis, took the Beth Emek post last July. Known for his exceptional pastoral and teaching skills, he had served congregations in Indianapolis, Bangor, Maine, and Westborough, Mass.
He also served as an assistant professor at the University of Maine, a lecturer at the Bangor Theological Seminary, and for two years was on the faculty at the Hebrew Academy, where he served as its reform rabbi.