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Congregation B'nai Israel of St.Petersburg

Rabbi Jacob Luski, Emeritus

Rabbi Emeritus Jacob Luski graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1971 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Management. From there, he enrolled in the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, New York, where he received his Master of Arts in 1974, and then continued at JTS to graduate from Rabbinical School. He served as the Rabbi for Congregation B'nai Israel from 1977 to 2018.

Rabbi Luski’s years in St. Petersburg have been devoted to growing a vibrant Jewish community, both in the synagogue and surrounding areas. At CBI, he established meaningful educational experiences and activities such as the JTS Tampa Bay Outreach Lecture Series, the first Mitzvah Day in Pinellas County, and Congregational trips to Israel. He also established the Hevra Kadisha Burial Society to ensure respectful and spiritual care for Jewish people after death.

Rabbi Luski also has been an integral part of the growth of the Jewish presence throughout the county. For 26 years, he has been the Jewish Chaplain at the VA Medical Center, Bay Pines, Florida bringing spirituality and friendship to veterans on his weekly visits. Rabbi Jacob Luski, and his wife Joanne, were instrumental in founding the Pinellas County Jewish Day School, welcoming the school on the CBI campus as it grew over it’s first 11 years. Rabbi Luski founded the Vaad Kashrut of Pinellas County, to ensure Kosher supervision for local hotels, restaurants, and caterers.

Building understanding between Jewish and other religious groups has been a continuing focus. Most recently, Rabbi Luski and the Most Reverend Bishop Robert N. Lynch of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida presented two Community Interreligious Dialogues marking the 50th Anniversary of the changing relationship that significantly changed relations between Catholics and Jews.

Receiving numerous honors and awards over the years, Rabbi Luski has enjoyed sharing his time and insights with Jewish, non-Jewish, and humanitarian initiatives, including establishing the Pinellas County Board of Rabbis, for which he served as President three times; the Clergy Association of Greater St. Petersburg, through which he founded the Community Interfaith Thanksgiving Service; National Conference of Christians and Jews, and the Race Relations Advisory Committee to the St. Petersburg Police Department. He serves on the Board of Directors of MERCAZ, The World Council of Conservative/MASORTI Synagogues, The Jewish Federation of Pinellas County, and the Rabbinic Cabinet of the Jewish Federation of North America. In 2003, Rabbi Luski received an honorary Doctorate of Divinity Honoris Causa from the Jewish Theological Seminary in recognition of his dedicated service.

After retiring from Congregation B’nai Israel in June of 2018, Rabbi Luski has continued his support of Israel as the 17th Chairperson of the International Rabbinic Advisory Council of the State of Israel Bonds.

Thu, April 18 2024 10 Nisan 5784