On July 1, 2014, Rabbi Gerald Serotta joined the IFC as our new Executive Director, succeeding Rev. Clark Lobenstine, who has retired after serving in that position for 35 years. Rabbi Serotta has played a leading role in a variety of interfaith, religious freedom, and human rights causes in the Washington area over many years.
IFC President Fr. Avelino Gonzalez, the Ecumenical and Interfaith Officer of the Archdiocese of Washington, commented, “We are delighted to have someone of Rabbi Serotta’s stature and experience become our Executive Director. He combines a passionate commitment to interfaith understanding with exceptional skills in strategic planning, development, and creative programming.” IFC First Vice President Dr. Siva Subramanian added, “Rabbi Serotta has demonstrated a remarkable capacity to build coalitions among people of diverse faiths. His leadership will help us to transform the IFC to meet the interfaith challenges of the 21st century.” “I am so pleased that the IFC will be in such good hands,” said Founding Director Rev. Clark Lobenstine. “I have long admired Rabbi Serotta’s work, which is so in keeping with the IFC’s mission.”
“I am deeply honored and humbled,” Rabbi Serotta said, “to follow in the footsteps of two spiritual giants, Rev. Clark Lobenstine, who is internationally acknowledged as a pioneer in the field of interfaith relationships, and Rabbi Eugene Lipman, of blessed memory, who was a founder of the IFC and a beloved mentor and role model for me. I cannot imagine a more important and sacred mission than to promote the work of the IFC, which strives to nurture understanding, build community, and advance justice for all peoples.”
Most recently, Rabbi Serotta has served as Rabbi of Shirat HaNefesh Congregation in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and as Executive Director of the interreligious organization Clergy Beyond Borders. Previously, Rabbi Serotta served as Associate Rabbi of Temple Shalom in Chevy Chase and as Director of the Hillel Foundation at George Washington University. He was the Founder and Chair of Rabbis for Human Rights – North America, and he chaired the Board of Chaplains of George Washington University for many years.
Imam Yahya Hendi, who has worked closely with Rabbi Serotta at Clergy Beyond Borders, remarked, “The InterFaith Conference is so fortunate to have Gerry Serotta as its new Executive Director. His compassion, humility, respect for diversity, and bridge-building capabilities make him an outstanding interreligious leader. I look forward to continuing to work with Gerry in his new IFC role.”
Rabbi Serotta has received a number of awards for his interfaith and intergroup initiatives. In 2013 he was awarded the Agus-Shehan Interfaith Leadership Award by the Central Maryland Ecumenical Council. He received the Ralph Lemkin Human Rights Award in 2008 from Rabbis for Human Rights. He has also received the George Washington Award for service to George Washington University. He was appointed a Public Policy Conflict Resolution Fellow by the University of Maryland School of Law and served as a Senior Rabbinic Scholar in Residence at the Religious Action Center of the Union for Reform Judaism.
Rabbi Serotta received a M.A. in Hebrew Literature from Hebrew Union College, a Master of Sacred Theology from New York Theological Seminary, and an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Hebrew Union College. He holds an undergraduate degree from Harvard College. Rabbi Serotta is married to Dr. Cynthia J. Arnson, and they have three children.