Welcome to my website!

I am currently serving as Rabbi Emeritus at Beth Israel Congregation, Ann Arbor Michigan. I served as Rabbi at Beth Israel  1988-June, 2018 and have retired in order to pursue other opportunities in the rabbinate and other interests outside of the Jewish community.  I was born and raised in Boston and, while I have lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan for 35 years still consider Boston and New England home!

I received my B.A. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University in 1977 and an M.A. and rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1982. I also was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from JTS in 2010.

After ordination, I served as rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in Lansdale, PA until 1988 when I came to Ann Arbor. The synagogue was in a lovely, quiet, mostly rural community in which I learned the value of close relationships within congregations of any size.

Working and living in a university community was a fantastic experience. My pulpit work was always a source of great joy for me and, thanks to some very kind nominations by members of the congregation,  I was honored by the Forward in March, 2015 as one of the 33 most inspiring rabbis in the US.

There are several interests that I have emphasized in my years in the rabbinate. One of those has been writing. I have written many essays and articles in various publications and recently published my first book entitled The Long Way Around: Stories and Sermons from a Life’s Journey. The book, available through, is a combination of a memoir and sermons which have been inspired by the stories and experiences of my life.

I have always been interested in Jewish education and teaching students of all ages. I served as a staff member at Camp Ramah in New England for 13 years and taught at several International Conventions of United Synagogue Youth. In addition to working with young people, I teach adult education classes both at Beth Israel and in other settings including JLearn through the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit and in synagogues for Scholar in Residence Weekends.

I have also been extensively involved in interfaith work serving as a founding member of the Interfaith Roundtable of Washtenaw County (Ann Arbor). I am currently serving on the board of this  organization fostering interfaith dialogue and cooperation.

My interest in current issues has led me to my involvement with T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. I am a former national co-chair of T’ruah and support their and other organizations working for human rights here in the US, in Israel and throughout the world.

Writing has been a major feature of my rabbinate. My sermons and articles have appeared in various publications and I have recently finished my first book, entitled The Long Way Around: Stories and Sermons from a Life’s Journey. The book is available on

I also have enjoyed producing a weekly podcast: “Wrestling and Dreaming: Engaging Discussions on Judaism” which you can access through many podcast platforms. You will find more information on the podcast on this website.

I have many interests outside of the pulpit. My Boston roots continue to be a big part of my life and I am a passionate fan of Boston and New England sports teams, most notably, my beloved Boston Red Sox. I grew up a few miles from Fenway Park and have had the unexpected pleasure of celebrating four World Series championships in the past eighteen years.

In addition to sports, I love to travel and am proud to have visited all 50 states and have spent extensive time in Israel. I also had the opportunity in 2012 to travel to Latvia to research our family’s history.

My love for animals have led me to wonderful volunteer work as a dog walker and comforter at the Humane Society of Huron Valley and as a Zoo Educator at the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium where you can usually find me hanging around outside the orangutan and gorilla enclosures.

Finally, I am active geocacher. If you’re unfamiliar with geocaching, just  ask me about it or go to for more information.

My wife Ellen and I are the parents of two grown children Avi and Mickie, and our house is also home to our sweet mixed breed rescue dog, Sami. We also always remember our two sweet cats, Ozzie and Spot. You can see their pictures below. 

Enjoy your visit to my website and please contact me if you have any questions or comments or would like to discuss my visiting your community as a teacher/scholar in residence!


samid haggada