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Rabbi Stefan Tiwy


 Rabbi Stefan Tiwy joined the UJC family in 2016 following his ordination from Hebrew Union College (HUC-JIR) in New York City, having received his Master of Hebrew Literature (MAHL) degree the year before. 

Born and raised in Koblenz in Germany's Rhineland region, he graduated from Mainz University with the combined BA/MA degree State Exam for Teachers in 2010, majoring in English and Spanish with a focus on linguistics.

During his course of studies, he was awarded a scholarship to spend one year of graduate school at Clark University in Worcester, MA. It was during that year that Rabbi Tiwy experienced and fell in love with the vibrant American Jewish community. Before entering HUC-JIR, he engaged in a year of intensive Jewish text study at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.

During his rabbinical training, Rabbi Tiwy served a number of Reform congregations across the US: Temple Anshe Emeth in Pine Bluff, AR; Congregation Beth Shalom in East Liverpool, OH; Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick, NJ; Community Synagogue of Rye, NY; and Temple Shalom in Norwalk, CT.

Rabbi Tiwy sees his key role as rabbi to be a teacher of Jewish tradition and to provide this and the next generation with a solid grounding in the Jewish way of life, its sacred texts, history, and thought. Studying with and teaching people of all different backgrounds and age groups are key passions of his. Especially in the confusing and divided world we live in today, he considers keeping an open mind for others and reaching beyond and transcending boundaries to those who yearn for peace and inclusion more important than ever. His rabbinical vision is to use education and learning to pursue and inspire actions of tikkun olam (repairing the world), which he considers one of the highest goals and the ultimate purpose of Judaism.

To this end, Rabbi Tiwy has been very active in interfaith dialogue in the wider Danbury area, particularly with the Muslim community at the Al-Hedaya Islamic Center in Newtown, CT, and been working towards a better understanding and cooperation between the two faith communities. He is also an active participant in programs sponsored by the Association of Religious Communities (ARC) in Danbury, a regular host of the interfaith education program Caravan of Faith, and a frequent contributor to the Danbury NewsTimes' Forum on Faith column.

Rabbi Tiwy is married to Cantor Laura Breznick who serves as the cantor of Temple Sholom in New Milford, CT; they make their home in Danbury. 

You can contact Rabbi Tiwy at (203) 748-3355; or email at

To access Rabbi Tiwy's articles and bulletin columns, check out the Rabbi's Page.

Cantor Penny M. Kessler





 Cantor Penny Kessler’s journey to the cantorate began years before she entered the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. A self-acknowledged “Hebrew School dropout,” Cantor Kessler made sure that Judaism and the Jewish community remained integral to her essence and spiritual growth. When she and her husband joined the UJC as young parents, she joined the UJC’s adult choir under the direction of Cantor Sam Radwine, who introduced her to Jewish worship music and encouraged to seek her master’s degree in sacred music.

Cantor Kessler believes that Judaism offers a path and a guide to holiness and an awareness of God in our lives. Her vision as a cantor is to use Jewish music and texts to help Jews to find their own Jewish paths to holiness and God awareness, to develop relationships within the Jewish community, and welcome new generations of Jews into the Jewish family. All her work at the UJC is focused on those goals, whether it is directing the UJC Adult Choir, sitting on the floor teaching music to kids in the religious school, presenting continuing ed programs and field trips for grownups, or developing – along with the lay leadership – periodic meditation Shabbat services, the yearly Tashlich service, the UJC’s online presence, and other initiatives.

In the community, Cantor Kessler participates in ARC’s Danbury and Bethel’s Interfaith Thanksgiving services and the “Breakfast for Care” of the Bethel Visiting Nurse Association. She presents holiday-themed programs at various assisted-living and nursing home facilities in the area and contributes regular columns to the Danbury News-Times “Forum on Faith” and Jewish Federation “Focus” newspapers. Cantor Kessler co-chaired and co-led the Danbury chapter of NCJW’s Women Seders.

A member of the Executive Board of the American Conference of Cantors, Cantor Kessler serves on the ACC’s Communications Committee, the Committee on Ethics and Appeals, and the Social Action and Justice Committee, serving as past ACC representative to the Executive Committee of the URJ’s Social Action Committee. She served on the faculties of URJ Eisner and Crane Lake Camps as well as NFTY-NE Institutes. In 2007, she and a cantorial colleague were the first cantors to be invited to participate in the URJ’s Eilu v’Eilu project, discussing the Jewish challenge of difficult musical texts such as the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s “Messiah.” Her devar Torah on parashat Eikev, “For Our Own Good,” was included in the URJ publication, “Living Torah: Selections from 7 Years of Torat Chayim.”

Cantor Kessler makes her home with her husband Stanley in Bethel, and they are the proud parents of Alaina, Warren, and Harrison – all of whom grew up at the UJC.

You can reach Cantor Kessler at (203) 748-3355 or 

Daryl Bain, Religious School Director

Daryl Bain is the Director of Education; she can be reached at (203) 743-1180 or

Sat, January 25 2020 28 Tevet 5780