Rabbi Joe Blair

has served as the rabbi and spiritual leader of Temple House of Israel (Staunton) since August 2003.  He also serves the extended Jewish community in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia.

Rabbi Joe’s vision has been to build, nurture, and nourish a strong, vibrant Jewish community in the Shenandoah Valley in Central Virginia, and to be connected to and support the larger community in the local area and outward into the world.  He was selected to be one of eighteen rabbis nationally to participate in the sixth cohort of the STAR PEER program, which assisted him in honing his skills and directing his energies, which makes him one of the one hundred and sixteen rabbis nationally who engaged in this exclusive training program (since terminated).  He serves as the Administrator and Webmaster for the Jewish Values Online project, and is an instructor, staff member, and Administrative Dean of the Gamliel Institute, the leadership training arm of the national organization, Kavod v’Nichum.


Rabbi Joe was raised in Fairfax (Northern Virginia).  He attended the University of Virginia for his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Computer Sciences degrees, then went on to attend the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary.  He and his lovely wife (also a U.Va and Marshall-Wythe graduate) settled in Northern Virginia, and lived there for fifteen years, during which time Rabbi Joe worked with computers for a variety of consulting, high-tech, and telecommunications firms, after a very brief stint as a general practice attorney.  They were blessed with a wonderful daughter, who is now married, and he is the proud grandparent of a grandson and a granddaughter.

During the years living in Northern Virginia, Rabbi Joe became increasingly involved in the life of his local congregation and the larger Jewish community.  He found himself wanting to deepen and broaden his service to the Jewish community and to increase his Jewish knowledge.  After long consideration, he decided to attend rabbinical school.  He applied, attended, and graduated from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) in Philadelphia, concluding his schooling in 1996, when he earned a Master of Hebrew Letters degree and was ordained.

During his five years of rabbinical studies, Rabbi Joe held several pulpits, taught in several Religious and Hebrew schools, offered adult education classes, served on the editorial staff of the Reconstructionist Prayerbook Commission, and edited numerous publications, as well as authoring and contributing materials to a number of books and publications.  Upon graduation from RRC, Rabbi Joe re-entered the academic world as Executive Director of the Duke University Hillel Foundation.  After three years at Duke (during which time the Freeman Center for Jewish Life was planned and dedicated), Rabbi Joe was recruited to return to his alma mater at the University of Virginia, serving at the UVa Hillel Foundation as Executive Director.

Rabbi Joe served as an Executive Director for Hillel Foundations for approximately five years. He loved programming, teaching, counseling, and working with the students, and found it deeply rewarding, but did not thrive in the increasingly administrative and fund-raising role that was thrust upon him.  As a result, Rabbi Joe chose to end his association with the national Hillel organization.  Although Rabbi Joe officially left the Hillel organization, he has made himself available to serve as a supporter and rabbinic advisor to the Hillels at Washington and Lee University and James Madison University, and responds to and supports students from many different institutions.

Subsequent to leaving the Hillel world, Rabbi Joe found his way to the pulpit in the Shenandoah Valley.

Rabbi Joe has also remained active in other endeavors, as a part-time copyeditor, proofreader, and indexer for a variety of Hebrew-English publications, including the Hebrew-English Tanakh (published by the Jewish Publication Society-JPS), several volumes in the series on the Talmud by H. Gamoran, and a 12 volume series (in progress, through Stanford U. Press) translating the Zohar by Daniel C. Matt.

Rabbi Joe is deeply involved in teaching about Jewish end-of-life continuum matters through the Gamliel Institute, where he serves as Dean of Administration, and providing administrative support, and editing the Blog Expired and Inspired for Kavod v’Nichum.

Throughout his adult years, Rabbi Joe remains active in the Jewish community wherever he lives, teaching, leading services, and working with groups and individuals as opportunities and needs have arisen.

Bikkur Cholim

If you should hear or know of anyone who is ill, hospitalized or shut-in, or who might otherwise wish a visit or call from the Rabbi, please email or leave a message for the Rabbi. (Contact information below.

Chevrah Kadishah

In the event that there should be a need (Chas ve’shalom) for the services of the Chevrah Kadisha (Holy Burial Society), please contact Rabbi Joe by email or phone.  If there is a need for information concerning Jewish funeral practices, you may also contact Rabbi Joe. (Contact information below.)

Other Lifecycle Events

You may also contact Rabbi Joe with regard to other lifecycle events such as Brit Milah (Circumcision & Welcoming a son), Brit Bat (Welcoming a Daughter), Weddings (not including any co-officiation), Bar or Bat Mitzvah (Celebration ritual for a religious coming-of-age ceremony), funerals, and so on.  There is no honorarium expected from members of the congregation for such ritual events; non-members may inquire about the current honoraria guidelines. (Contact information below.)

You may also contact Rabbi Joe to discuss presentations on Judaism to Church groups, Youth Groups, Civic organizations, school groups, and other community groups and organizations. (Contact information below.)

Office Days and Visits

Rabbi Joe is available by appointment.  There are no fixed office hours, so please email or call to arrange a time to meet so that he can focus exclusively on the conversation with you. (Contact information below.)

Contact Information

Rabbi Joe can be contacted by telephone or by email.
Email Rabbi Joe Blair
Cell Phone 925-272-8563