A fifth-generation Houstonian, Rabbi Septimus has been in Austin since 2014, serving as Texas Hillel Executive Director for just over two years and now as CEO of Shalom Austin since September 2016, the hub of Jewish life in Central Texas.
Shalom Austin consists of four main branches: Jewish Community Center, Jewish Federation, Jewish Family Service and the Jewish Foundation, which work together to comprehensively address the needs of Austin’s Jewish community in collaboration with area congregations, schools and community organizations.
The opportunity to shape the future of one of the fastest growing Jewish communities in the United States with an innovative model and structure was very attractive to Rabbi Septimus in choosing to take this position. Learning from the success of Hillel around engagement and creating meaningful Jewish relationships, Daniel has partnered with synagogues, organizations and lay leaders in the community to create a new model of Jewish life and learning and engagement, which is set to launch later this summer.
During Rabbi Septimus’ tenure at Texas Hillel, he significantly enhanced the organization’s financial stability, operational efficiency, and community outreach efforts. He has attracted national attention for his leadership—AIPAC named him 2016's Campus Partner of the Year, recognizing his and Texas Hillel’s pro-Israel education advocacy and their success fighting BDS on campus. Rabbi Septimus and his team significantly expanded social justice programming as one of the three main pillars of programming and engagement. Texas Hillel was one of a few Hillels in the movement with a full-time social justice professional.
Before coming to Austin, Rabbi Septimus served at Temple De Hirsch Sinai, the largest Jewish congregation in the Pacific Northwest for seven years as Associate Rabbi and Director of Congregation Learning where he brought a holistic approach to congregational learning. During his tenure, Rabbi Septimus instituted a dynamic young adult group attracting over 300 individuals and created an outside the walls early childhood engagement program called “KIDdish Club”, which was awarded the URJ Belin Outreach and Membership Award for attracting, at the time, over 60 families to participate in just over a year. His team also revamped youth involvement by offering several pathways to remain engaged post-B’nai Mitzvah.
Rabbi Septimus graduated from Tulane University in 2002 and was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2007. He has also been awarded the prestigious Hartman and Schusterman Fellowships.
Rabbi Septimus, his wife Amanda and their three children, Talia, Jonah and Ari, are active members of four local congregational communities.