Rabbi David Spey
Spiritual leader, Temple Bat Yam, Fort Lauderdale, since July.
Other job experience:
Former construction assistant for a hospital; former medical research assistant at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx.
Degree in religion with concentration in philology, Wesleyan University, Middleton, Conn.; master's degree in Hebrew letters, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Jerusalem and New York City.
Age 43. Born in New York City, raised in Short Hills, N.J.
Married to Dara Tuckfelt-Spey, a psychologist. Two children.
What does a rabbi do in his first year at a synagogue?
You learn. You do little, say less, and figure out what the community needs. You find the strengths and where to build on its foundations.
What do you like about being a rabbi?
I get to to the things I enjoy doing on a daily basis. I talk about Jewish tradition and study the texts, and interact with people. My greatest pleasure is teaching.
For me, it's being on time. Because I enjoy interacting with people, I never want to cut someone short or push someone out of my office just because I have to be somewhere.
How do you like to relax?
I'm an outdoorsy person. Since coming to South Florida, I've hit the water a lot. I've started scuba diving, and I'm working on my dive master certification.
Goofing around with my family: cooking, eating, movies, throwing a ball around. My wife just scheduled me to coach my daughter's lacrosse team.
What kinds of foods do you like?
Right now I'm exploring Florida cuisine. I just bought plantains. My family has fallen in love with carambolas. And I'm eating a lot of mahi-mahi these days. But my friends are saying that hogfish is the greatest thing in the world.
Favorite TV shows?
It jumps around. These days, we're into the crime-medical dramas: "Dexter," "House," "Psych," "Lie To Me."
I constantly seek out the Grade B stuff, like Patrick Swayze's "Roadhouse." It's sheer entertainment. But I also saw "Restrepo," that documentary about the Afghanistan war. I also look at a lot of movies I use for classes. I've used "Groundhog Day" for a High Holy Days sermon.
What person in history would you like most to meet?
Thomas Jefferson. There is so much about his story that seems to be in conflict. Like his views on slavery, and his relationships with his slaves and his slave children. I'd love to discuss his views and how he came to his conclusions.
Any advice you'd give for others considering the vocation?
Before entering school, find a rabbi. Shadow them and really get to understand what this job demands. And make sure that not only you understand it, but that your family understands it.
Something most people don't know about you?
I can recite most Monty Python movies by heart.
What's the most important thing you've ever learned?
To talk less and listen more. Most people who seek answers from the rabbi have the answers within themselves. If you let someone talk through their issues long enough, often they'll come to their answers.
What would you like most to be remembered for?
There's a quote I often use at a house of mourning: "Let it not be said that life was good to you, but rather that you were good to life."