Rabbi Gary Atkins and his wife, Iris, are very happy and excited about making Bloomfield, Connecticut and Beth Hillel Synagogue their home. Rabbi Atkins was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1974 and has had a full and rewarding career as a chaplain, congregational rabbi, and mohel.
Rabbi Atkins was born on December 19, 1945, in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended Dartmouth College from 1963 through 1966 and then enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. During his military service, he became seriously interested in his Judaism. After completing his enlistment, he studied and was ordained at the Rabbinical School of The Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He returned to the Air Force as a chaplain and served three years as Area Jewish Chaplain for the Far East, stationed at Clark Air Base, Philippines. His responsibilities included traveling to bases in Thailand and Taiwan, supporting Jewish personnel from all branches of military service there. In the chaplaincy, he developed and lived an outlook of interfaith cooperation, respect and sharing, which has been part of his life ever since. Rabbi Atkins was honorably discharged from the Air Force in August of 1977.
After serving as a pulpit rabbi, he decided in 1985 to make aliyah, and lived in Israel for several years. Returning to the United States in 1994, he served pulpits in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. In both Connecticut and Florida, Rabbi Atkins worked as a Jewish Chaplain for Hospice organizations, believing that Hospice gives invaluable assistance to individuals and families facing end-of-life issues. Rabbi Atkins is a trained and board-certified mohel who has carried out this special mitzvah for 25 years. He was certified by the Brit Milah Commission of the Philadelphia Board of Rabbis and has a certificate of study from the Brit Kodesh program of the Rabbinical Assembly.
Rabbi Atkins enjoys davenning (chanting services) and leyning (reading from the Torah). He had served for many years as Hazzan at Congregation Brith Sholom in Erie, PA. He brings an outgoing and welcoming personality to every aspect of his rabbinical, teaching, and community work. He has a special love for teaching children and for the performance of brit milah, as seen in the special welcoming and inclusive service he has prepared for this special mitzvah. “Rabbi Gary” and Iris both enjoy, making friends, and being part of the Beth Hillel Synagogue family and larger Hartford communitiy.
To contact Rabbi Atkins, please email him at Rabbi@bethhillelsynagogue.org