Meet Rabbi Devora Buchen
Rabbi Buchen has led Temple Beth Shalom since 2004. She is without doubt a human dynamo! From ascending the bimah each Friday night to teaching religious school and Bar/Bat Mitzvah classes, from directing the choir to making hospital visits to congregants in need, from participating in a Bet Din (a gathering of Rabbis or learned Jews to witness a conversion, a divorce, or counciling) to attending the Jewish Food Fest, Rabbi Buchen seems to do it all, all the time!
A New Jersey native, Rabbi Buchen earned her undergraduate degree at Rutgers, did post-grad work at Carnegie Mellon University and the Mannes College of Music and received her Master’s degree from the American World University. By age 19, she was a cantorial soloist at Temple Emanuel in New York. She has soloed in university choruses and with their orchestras, has directed choruses and chaired university voice and opera programs, and has sung with a professional opera company. She has taught at Cal State, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Virginia and Penn State.
Rabbi Buchen was widowed and left with three young children, 12, 10, and 4. In time, she met and married Irv Buchen, who had two children. Together they had another child, creating a wonderful family of six children. Irv’s career as a writer, professor, university administrator and expert on long-range forecasting has taken the couple to Indonesia, Israel, China and much of Europe. The confluence of their professional paths provided each with rich experiences and prompted their youngest son to speak of himself as “growing up in a suitcase” since he traveled frequently with his parents to new and exciting countries.
While they lived in California, Rabbi and Irv started a new synagogue in Redwood. Rabbi Buchen also developed the Children’s Opera Factory, a troupe that went into the schools.
The Buchens came to Florida when Irv accepted a position in the distance learning program with a university. Rabbi Buchen became the cantor in Venice, FL and since they had no rabbi, also assumed the role of spiritual leader. She decided that she needed more course work. Neither the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York nor the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati offered distance learning opportunities. As a full-time cantor and spiritual leader, she needed to study here in Florida. She took course work at Jewish Theological seminary, studied in Israel, and also did course work with the Rabbinical International Seminary, and then was ordained. After spending 5 years with her Venice congregation, she accepted a cantorial position at Temple Judea where she remained for 3 years. In 2004, she came to Temple Beth Shalom as Spiritual Leader then became its Rabbi in 2005.
Our congregation is blessed to have this remarkable Rabbi. Her vast background of experience and training, both secular and religious, makes her a powerful intellectual presence and an incredibly “hamish” leader. She is excited to see her former Bar/Bat Mitzvah students continuing their Jewish education. She loves seeing her former voice students gaining acceptance at prestigious colleges and being granted scholarships. She says, “I have learned so much I just want to give, give, give it to everyone”. We are honored and humbled to be the recipient of Rabbi Buchen’s gifts.