Clergy of Etz Hayim HHB

The section introduces you to our clergy. We our proud of their leadership, their inspiration.

Rabbi David Wise

Rabbi Wise’s Weekly Shabbat Message
Rabbi Wise’s Study Corner

Prior to the consolidaton of May 2021,  Rabbi David Wise had assumed the position as Rabbi of the Hollis Hills Jewish Center in August 2005, having served for over 9 years as the Rabbi of Temple Beth El in Somerset, New Jersey. He now continues in this role as Rabbi and Mara D’Atra of the newly formed Congregation Etz Hayim of Hollis Hills Bayside, a consolidation of Hollis Hills Bayside Jewish Center and the Marathon Jewish Community Center.

He came to Somerset, NJ after receiving a Masters degree and ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1996. He completed his undergraduate studies at Ryerson Polytechnic University in Toronto in 1991, majoring in journalism.

A native of Toronto, Ontario, Rabbi Wise was active in Conservative movement educational programs and youth groups. He attended United Synagogue Day Schools, Camp Ramah in Canada, and was active in United Synagogue Youth as a teen and later as an advisor. He also led a USY Israel Pilgrimage group when at JTS.

Rabbi Wise’s has focused his energies on sharing Torah with all segments of a congregation. His role involves the monitoring an supervision of our educational programs for our children including assisting with the curriculum and staff. His dedication to teaching torah to our youth extends to those in the post Bar and Bat Mitzvah age group. He equally serves as the leader in our adult education program. As with his years in Somerset Rabbi Wise strives to serve as a personal mentor to members of the community who seek to deepen their Jewish learning and commitment. His work is marked by efforts to help congregants read Torah, haftarah, and increase their skills as shelihei tzibur (prayer leaders).

Community involvement has also been of significance to Rabbi Wise’s rabbinate. During his years in New Jersey he taught rabbinic literature in the upper school of the Solomon Schechter Day School of Raritan Valley. He was vice-president for special programming of the New Jersey Rabbinical Assembly and was a member of the steering committee for Jewish LIFE, a cooperative body of synagogues and Jewish institutions striving to bring superior adult learning to the community. He served on the boards of the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County and the Ramah Day Camp of Raritan Valley.  He also served as a chaplain for the police department.

Zionism is a major focus of Rabbi Wise’s teachings. In 1999, he led the first ever Beth El congregational trip to Israel, and has studied at the Hartman Institute’s Rabbinic Torah Study Seminar.

Rabbi Wise and his wife, Judy Krinitz, have two wonderful children–Jordana Nechama and Elijah Mordechai.

Rabbi Gary Greene

Rabbi Greene’s Blog “Thinking Out Loud”

Up to the May 2021 consolidation creating Congregation Etz Hayim, Rabbi Gary Greene had been the spiritual leader of Marathon Jewish Community Center since 2003. He previously served Temple Beth Sholom, Framingham, MA and B’nai Jacob, Springfield, MA. He graduated the Joint Program between the Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University in 1974 and Rabbinical School of the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1978. He is a graduate of Leadership Institute’s third cohort for Hebrew School principals.

Rabbi Greene has been and will continue to be an inspirational leader working with Rabbi Wise, both seeking to lead the congregational community in new and innovative programs to engage and connect. During his tenure at Marathon, Rabbi Greene helped the congregation become an egalitarian synagogue. He instituted a well attended and popular Carlebach minyan, a seeker service, and the Marathon “Lunch and Learn” program. He has revitalized the adult education program as well instituted a family education tract, and an annual Israel Film festival. United Synagogue awarded him the Solomon Schechter Award for Adult Education in 2002. He has taught all ages of children in Hebrew School and at Camp Ramah in New England.

In the community Rabbi Greene inspired and spearheaded the Northeast Queens Jewish Community Council’s participation in the annual Salute to Israel Parade which has grown to 11 participating congregations with over 400 marchers a year. He helped refashion the community wide Yom Hashoa commemorative service.

Rabbi Greene is happily married to Judith Diamond and together they have 4 sons, 3 daughters-in-law, and 1 wonderful grandson, Amichai, Hillel with Lily and our grandson Elisha, Doron with Rebecca, and Asaf with Valeriya.

Cantor Sol Zim

CANTOR SOL ZIM, is a world renowned Master Cantor, Composer, Songwriter, Recording Artist, Concert Performer, Educator and Lecturer. He is Cantor of Congregation Etz Hayim at Hollis Hills Bayside, where he has been serving as Chazzan since 1964. He was awarded a Life Time Contract in 1983 and has been with his beloved Congregation for over 58 year.

Cantor Zim has always had a MISSION; to spread the Joy of Jewish Music throughout the world. He is one of the most dynamic and innovative musicians in Jewish Music today! His unique Cantorial and Musical styles bring together the beauty and nostalgia of traditional music together with modern melody which evokes a tremendous spark of spirituality for the heart & soul and links the Jewish people from generation to generation, MIDOR L’DOR.

Sol Zim comes from a long line of Cantors. At the age of three, Sol began singing on the Bima by his father’s side (Cantor Samuel Zimelman z”l) and at the age of seven and a half, he came to Brooklyn, NY to study at Yeshiva Torah Vodaas. At the same time, Sol began receiving private Cantorial training from Joshua Samuel Weisser z”l and later joined Oscar Julius’s Choir, as his soloist. While in his choir, Julius z”l, taught him Solfeggio, Theory, Counterpoint, Harmony & Conducting. Simultaneously, Sol was singing with some of the Great Cantors of the Golden Age; Moshe Koussevitzky, Kapov Kagan, Shmuel Malavsky, Leible Waldman, Moshe Oysher, Pierre Pinchik, Zichronam Livracha. Sol was soon recognized as a young Cantorial Prodigy, ”A Vunder Kind”.  Practically every moment of Sol’s childhood was spent studying, singing and performing alongside many Cantorial greats!

Sol attended Yeshiva University H.S. and around that time, while his voice was changing, he started Conducting Choirs. While attending the Jewish Theological Seminary Cantorial School & joint program with Columbia University, he took a weekend position as Cantor at Temple Shalom of Westbury, L.I. where he met his beautiful wife June. Sol started to compose Congregational Participatory Compositions; such as; L’DOR VADOR, KAD’SHEINU, SIM SHALOM and his SHALOM ALEICHEM” for which he won FIRST PRIZE at the Israeli Chasidic Song Festival in Israel in 1984. While at Hollis Hills Jewish Center (now Congregation Etz Hayim at Hollis Hills Bayside), he kept writing so many more compositions that are sung by Congregations throughout the world. Sol Zim is truly the PIONEER of PARTICIPATORY MUSIC!

After graduating JTS Cantrorial School, he continued to develop his Cantorial Art/Vocal Technique, fine-tuning his Artistry of Jewish & Liturgical Song, studying privately with Cantor Moshe Koussevitsky and Shalom Secunda, z”l. Sol became friendly with Jan Peerce z”l who encouraged him to study Opera. He began working with Maestro Julius Rudel z”l, the Opera & Orchestral Conductor at the NY Metropolitan Opera, and studied voice with Operatic Tenor of the NY Metropolitan Opera, Kurt Baum z”l. Sol ultimately performed 20 operatic roles on stage.

Although Cantor Zim was offered contracts with the Vienna State Opera Theatre and with the Israeli Opera Company, he decided to devote his life to Chazzanut & Jewish Music. He started Concertizing throughout the world, Composing, Recording and Sharing his music with the entire Jewish world. He knew how important it was to bring spirituality to our liturgy and wanted to ensure that Traditional Nusach & Chazzanut would thrive for generations to come.          

Cantor Sol Zim has received many awards & honors.. To note a few, The “Hazzan Max Wohlberg Award” for Composition, from The Cantors Assembly, “The Yuval Award” in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to Synagogue Music, from The Cantors Assembly, “The Jewish Music Leadership Award”, from The Academy For Jewish Religion, for his Advancement of Jewish Music throughout the world, “The Amit Humanities Award”, in recognition of his achievements in Preserving the Jewish Heritage for future generations through his forming of many children’s choirs when performing concerts throughout the world, HONORARY FELLOW of the Cantors Institute of The Jewish Theological Seminary, and many, many more. Cantor Sol Zim is a recipient of his DOCTORATE OF MUSIC, HONORIS, CAUSA from the JEWISH THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY.

Cantor Zim is professor of Jewish Music at the ACADEMY FOR JEWISH RELIGION (AJR), in New York, for over 25 years where he has been teaching Nusach, Conducting, Classical & Folk Songs, Music for the Life Cycle, Classical Yiddish Folk Songs, Composing and much more, as well as Coaching. He also lectures nationally as well as internationally, and is a frequent “Scholar/Composer in Residence” for many Synagogues around the world.

Sol has recorded over 25 CD’s and has written more than 15 books of ORIGINAL MUSIC, including his THREE ANTHOLOGIES” (for SHABBAT, ROSH HASHANAH & YOM KIPPUR). All of these Anthologies have been Published by the CANTORS ASSEMBLY, and have become guides for Cantors & Rabbis.  Sol is in the process of publishing his 4th ANTHOLOGY, “SHALOSH REGALIM  ANTHOLOGY”, also being published by the Cantors Assembly. Sol was one of the first to write a FRI EVE ROCK SERVICE. Probably the most well known composition Sol has written, AVINU SHEBASHAMAYIM, he recorded in his most recent CD titled CANTOR SOL ZIM, AVINU SHEBASHAMAYIM (A PRAYER FOR THE STATE OF ISRAEL AND MUCH MORE”) Accompanied by a Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Dr. Mordechai Sobol (z”l) and Ofir Sobol (Musical Producer). 

Sol Zim’s contributions to Liturgical Synagogue Music is enormous. His prolific and creative interpretive musical artistry have greatly influenced JEWISH MUSICAL CULTURE and is helping secure that NUSACH HAT’FILAH and CHAZZANUT will continue to thrive! However….. what distinguishes Sol most, is his “Gute Neshama”, his soulful heart, his compassion, his unconditional love of family & friends, his unrelenting energy, his dedication to teaching and his love and dedication to his beloved Congregation Etz Hayim at Hollis Hills Bayside..

Sol has an extremely loving & supportive family! His wife JUNE, and his sons CRAIG & wife ERIKA, ERIC & wife IDIT. His 5 Grandsons, JONATHAN & wife HILLARY, JORDAN, JARED, JUSTIN & RYAN, and the newest addition to the Zim clan, LIAM, his Great Grandson from Jonathan & Hillary.  They are all the LIGHTS OF HIS LIFE!  

Sol is so appreciative to his wife, June, for always supporting him unconditionally, and always encouraging him to share his music with his colleagues, fellow Cantors & the Jewish World, and to keep teaching the next generation of Cantors to spread the Joy of Participatory Musical Liturgical Prayer.   

WHEN MUSIC COMES FROM THE HEART, IT GOES TO THE HEART. This exemplifies CANTOR SOL ZIM.

For more about our Cantor please check Cantor Zim’s own website.

Rabbi Emeritus H. Joseph Simckes

After having served the Hollis Hills Jewish Center community since 1976, Rabbi Simckes, in July 2005 assumed the role of Rabbi Emeritus. Far from retiring from the pulpit, Rabbi Simckes intends to remain as a source of spiritual leadership and inspiration for the community he has served; provide assistance and guidance to our new Rabbi, David Wise; and especially devote his time to his desired focus on bereavement counseling.

Born into a third generation Rabbinical family, the Rabbi was raised and educated in Boston, Massachusetts. After graduating with honors from the Boston Latin School (America’s oldest secondary school), he matriculated at Harvard College where he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in psychology while simultaneously attending Boston Hebrew Teachers College. He then entered Rabbinical School at the Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan where he earned a masters Degree in Hebrew Literature, Rabbinic ordination and subsequently received an Honorary Degree in Theology.

In 1960 after his ordination at the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Rabbi returned to Massachusetts where he served Temple Beth Am, Randolph, Massachusetts as its Rabbi for a period of 16 years. While in New England the Rabbi earned a Doctorate in Pastoral Counseling at Andover Newton Theological Seminary and a Degree in Psychological Counseling from the Northeast Counseling Institute.

Rabbi Simckes served as Jewish Chaplain and therapist at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center in Boston where he was trained in psychotherapy. The Rabbi pursued his interest in the mental health field by securing further training in transactional analysis and serving as chaplain and counselor at other mental health facilities and institutions in the Boston area and taking advanced courses at Boston University Theological School.

Since coming to New York in 1976 to serve as Rabbi of the Hollis Hills Jewish Center, Rabbi Simckes became deeply involved in Jewish Communal life. For two years the Rabbi served as Chairman of the Task Force on Substance Abuse and Alcohol of the U.J.A. / Federation of Greater New York and is a past president of the Queens Region of the Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative). Rabbi Simckes is a member of the New York Board of Rabbis.

Together with his wife, Chana, former Educational Director of the Oceanside Jewish Center, Rabbi Simckes has led over 40 trips to Israel including two as leaders of U.S.Y Israel Summer Pilgrimage Groups.

Rabbi Simckes has a long and continuing involvement in the Solomon Schechter Day School movement. The Rabbi was one of the Founders of the School in Boston where all his three sons attended and received their grade school education. A vigorous supporter of Day Schools, Camp Ramah, as well as afternoon supplementary Jewish Education, Rabbi Simckes currently serves on the Education Committee and Board of Overseers of the Solomon Schechter Day School of Queens.

CONTACT RABBI SIMCKES