Keeping a foot in each world
Rabbi Dan Levin

Title: Senior rabbi of Temple Beth El, Boca Raton.

Other community posts: Member, executive board, Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County; board member, Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach; member, President's Rabbinical Council, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

Education: Degree in philosophy and religion, Colgate University; master of arts in Hebrew letters, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Jerusalem, Los Angeles and New York City.

Personal: Age 41. Born in Rockville, Md.

Family: Married to Aimee, a housewife. Three children.

A distinctive of your approach to religion?

To synthesize the wisdom and the vitality of our tradition and its texts and ritual meaning with the contemporary world. To make sense and be powerful, you can't leave either world.

Did you always want to be a rabbi?

No, I thought I was going to be a journalist or opinion writer. In high school, I loved writing for the high school newspaper. In college, I spent a year at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and had the opportunity to study Jewish theology and philosophy.

I was a Senate press intern in 1989. The press secretary said, "Do you want to be a newswriter or a newsmaker? Someone who is making a difference or writing about other people who are making a difference?" That's what rang in my head as I headed to Israel in my junior year.

Favorite pastime?

On occasion, golf. My wife and I enjoy a walk in the morning to clear our heads and get a little exercise. And I try to read two or three newspapers a day.

What book have you been recommending lately?

I continually go back to "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl. He wrote about his Holocaust experiences from a psychiatrist viewpoint. He wrote about logotherapy, which finds mental health in meaning. He found that those who had a reason to survive could persevere through the most awful experiences you can imagine.

Written any books?

On Mondays, the Union for Reform Judaism sends out a short essay on the Torah portion. I was the featured writer for the portions from Exodus.

Favorite vacation spot?

Jerusalem is a home and a passion. It's where I discovered Judaism, and where I met my wife. I'm always amazed that it has so much change and so much history at the same time.