About

Rabbi Tziona Szajman is a trained chaplain who works with people of all backgrounds during grief and illness to find their personal spirituality, their inner strengths and resources, and the connections that help us through difficult times. She is dedicated to marrying the traditions of Judaism with our unique needs and perspectives as individuals. Rabbi Tziona has a Masters in Jewish Education with experience in designing Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies for people of all abilities and interests. Rabbi Tziona is available for learning and life cycle needs in the Ithaca area and via internet.

What People Say

“Thank you for all the hours you spent with Wendi studying Torah and working on her d’var.  You have an intuitive and appealing way of motivating young people.  Thank you for officiating at Wendi’s Bat Mitzvah and for the kind and personal words during your address. We will remember and cherish them.”

Sharon and Brian Miles

“I loved your lyceum course and so did very single person who completed a review. In short we have all become your fans.  The substance of your class was both entertaining and moving.  Thank you so much for sharing your scholarship with us.”

Cheryl Richter

“We knew you were the perfect choice to marry us, but we weren’t prepared for just how beautiful a job you would do! The ceremony was perfect. It was beautiful and meaningful, traditional and unique, focused, and fun. We will remember it forever.

Emily and Victor

“It was a beautiful ceremony and we were incredibly touched by the speech you gave… Thanks again for helping make our wedding so special.”

Scott and Alexis

“I celebrate Rabbi Tziona’s ability to bring together her understanding of God’s Love in the world with the way she cares for and listens to people going through a difficult time.” 

Bianca Podesta

“I cannot find words precious enough to convey my gratitude for all your efforts and support during the illness and death of my father.  Had you simply helped coordinate funeral arrangements, dayenu.  Had you led services at shul and at the cemetery, dayenu. Had you gone the extra mile to learn a new tune to the 23rd psalm, dayenu (or genug as Dad used to say).  Instead, you poured your empathy, skill, and yes, your heart, into giving my father and his girls the eulogy and the service he so deserved.  For that my sisters and I will be forever grateful.  It was an honor getting to meet you and I know that Temple Israel is in capable hands with you on the bimah.”

Elizabeth Sussman Nassau

“Tziona Szajman is a wonderful rabbi.  She welcomed me into her office, taught me Hebrew once a week even though at the time I was in my late 70s, and then she taught me how to chant the Haftarah and encouraged me to do this from the Bima.  This is something I never would have attempted if she hadn’t been in my life.  She is warm hearted, very intelligent, and spiritual.” –Sylvia Horowitz, Temple Israel, Vestal, NY

“Rabbi, Simchat Torah was a lot of fun –I hope you got to see the looks on the kids faces when you unrolled the Torah. I’m guessing you’ve made kids look that awed, impressed, and enthused before, but it was really a special achievement. And I think the adults had a pretty good time too. Mazal Tov. Yet another hard-worked and very successful holiday.”  –Brenda Schlaen and Randy Freidman, Temple Israel

“Dear Rabbi Szajman, I appreciate all you have done for me. Regardless of the circumstances, you reach out, are aware and there to help. From the bottom of my heart thank you. Very fondly, Moira Shirvan”

“Dear Rabbi Szajman, Our family sincerely appreciates your kindness and compassion during the difficult days following the loss of our dear mother, Sylvia Azersky.  We will never forget your meeting with our family, listening to our stories and transforming them into a beautiful tribute to our mom.  Thank you. Sincerely, Mike Maddie and Family” –Temple Israel

“Rabbi, This year was the first year we were not with our respective families for Passover. The kids were disappointed to say the least, and they were not looking forward to the seders without being with the family. However, we took the suggestion that you had made at the Model Seder about reading stories and not being tied down to the haggadah. Traci went to the library, and took out books about Passover, and we incorporated the library books along with the elements of the seder. The kids had a great time, and it really eased their disappointments. Thanks to your suggestion, you have created a new family tradition, where we will read stories of Passover along with performing some of the ceremonies of the seder.” –Barry Kalmus, Temple Israel, Vestal, NY

“Dear Rabbi Szajman, We are so thankful for the support and guidance you gave us during my Dad’s passing, funeral, shiva services and just everything. Now I know why my Mom and Dad spoke nonstop about you as a Rabbi and a person. I feel so fortunate to have met you. When I go back to Binghamton to spend time with Mom I would love to hug you again to thank you. Your Eulogy was such a beautiful testament to my Dad, my family, and our love for one another. My Mom feels less alone with you around the corner. You helped my family through such a difficult time and allowed us to mourn our wonderful Dad.  You brought our tearful, biographical, and happy stories to life with your eloquent eulogy.  My children were so uplifted by your leadership, support, and love. My grandchildren and children were loved so much by Dad. Mom’s complete story of their first date finally surfaced in it’s entirety in your loving eulogy. Thanks Rabbi. I am excited to see you again for a hug. I hope our Jewish community knows what a “spiritual gem” they have in you.  I know you have had a stressful year and many people have passed on, but please know you made this emotional process respectful, positive, and beautiful for those of us who lost our loved one. I know you also loved my Dad.” –Debra Gilinsky, Temple Israel

“Dear Rabbi Szajman,  I would like to thank you for all you have done for me.  I appreciate it.  When I came out of the hospital, you brought me a big package of food.  It was received at a time when I wasn’t able to prepare anything to eat for myself.  Everything was delicious and I feel better each day.  I was speechless and had tears of happiness when I realized that someone was concerned about me.  It really meant so much, more than words can express.  I appreciate your phone calls to check in on how I am doing and know that you truly care about me and the congregation.  Thanks for everything.” — Erwin Kahn, Temple Israel

“Rabbi Tziona Szajman is a gift to those interested in relationships between people of good will from different religious traditions.  Her depth of Jewish spirit is accompanied by a compassionate willingness to engage with those of other faiths.  Her wisdom, her humor and her kindness have taught me more of Judaism than the many books I’ve read.  She is a mensch, and her friendship has enriched my life.  I am a better Christian and a better priest because of my friend Tziona.” –Rev Mark Giroux, St Mark’s Episcopal Church, Binghamton, NY

“I attended six seders this year but the one that stands out for me is the community seder at Temple Israel.  Rabbi Tziona Szajman took a disparate group of people, many of whom would otherwise never have gathered in one room, and brought them together as a community. Even more important, as one person later said, it was fun.  Though I didn’t get a chance to talk to everyone there (it was a nice size crowd), I could see people were having a good time. I was particularly moved by three children who, at first, were sullen and unhappy. By the end of the evening, they were all smiles.  Thank you and yasher koach to Rabbi Tziona Szajman for her enthusiasm and exuberance, and for a terrific seder.” –Rabbi Rachel Esserman, Endicott, NY

“I first met Rabbi Tziona Szajman in 2009. We worked together with others to organize events for Children of Abraham as well as many other interfaith activities.  My children still speak about the evening we spent in her home enjoying food and conversation, the pet cats, and wii.   If curtain of time could be pierced with a hole, allowing the Rabbis of five thousand years past to take a peak into our time, to Binghamton specifically, and watched us and see their fellow Rabbi of the twenty first century setting up a web-page to bridge tradition with modernity how happy they would leave the time curtain and go back to their timeless conversations.  I certainly enjoyed being part all these events, and most certainly enjoyed working with Rabbi Tziona, a dynamic leader, and with many other Binghamton clergy friends.”  Imam Kasim Kopuz, Islamic Organization of The Southern Tier, Johnson City,


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