NEWPORT BEACH — Growing up in Melbourne, Australia, Rabbi Gersh Zylberman didn't expect to become a rabbi, let alone one at a synagogue here, thousands of miles away from his native land.
But there aren't many options for Jews in Australia who aspire to become spiritual leaders, Zylberman said.
So with no local places to train rabbis, it did not seem like a realistic career path to him as a young man graduating from high school.
"I had always wanted to be a rabbi," Zylberman, 38, said. "But out of high school, like many nice Jewish boys, I studied medicine instead."
On July 13, Temple Bat Yahm, at 1011 Camelback St., welcomed Zylberman as its new associate rabbi. He will serve as the synagogue's lone associate rabbi under Senior Rabbi Mark S. Miller.
Zylberman did complete six years of medical training, however, but when it came for him to choose his specialty, he said, "When push came to shove, my true passion was serving the community, and I wanted to do that by becoming a rabbi."