Rabbi David Spinrad
Rabbi David Spinrad joins Beth El Hebrew Congregation as its sixth senior rabbi after serving from 2013-2018 as an associate rabbi and the director of the Rothschild Social Justice Institute at The Temple in Atlanta, Georgia. As he begins his service, Rabbi Spinrad is most excited by the prospect of getting to know the people of the Beth El community through Project LOVED: Living Our Values Every Day. Project LOVED will be a series of intentional one-on-one and small group conversations that allow congregants to share their values with him. They will also allow Rabbi Spinrad to expand on his values of living in the Jewish rhythm, lifelong secular and Jewish learning, social justice, service to society, and generosity with our congregation.
Highlights of Rabbi Spinrad’s Atlanta tenure included his partnership with fellow clergy and lay leadership in the establishment of the Rothschild Social Justice Institute and its small group formation around ten vital issues of our time: racial justice, refugee resettlement, Muslim-Jewish relations, sensible firearm safety, public education, homelessness, LGBTQ equality and inclusivity, women’s rights, ending domestic minor sex trafficking, and the environment. At The Temple, Rabbi Spinrad successfully challenged the assumption that pre-family, young Jewish adults are not interested in synagogue life by co-founding The Well, the premiere monthly late Shabbat service for Atlanta’s in-town young adult community. As a nexus for community and spirituality, The Well and its sister programs StoryWell and Women of the Well became valued occasions for people of all levels of familiarity and comfort with the Jewish tradition. Rabbi Spinrad also revitalized The Temple’s biannual Israel adult trips by creating the Israel Mind and Body Experience, a journey that combined the ancient and modern, intellectual and spiritual, and political and historic aspects of Israel with daily activities like hiking, Torah Yoga on Shabbat, meals at restaurants that featured local, organic food, and conversations on developing a personal theology.
While a rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Rabbi Spinrad was a Schusterman Rabbinic Fellow, an American Jewish World Service Kol Tzedek Fellow, and created the educational and advocacy website www.chocolatemoses.com, a contemporary Jewish response to modern slavery and human trafficking.
Prior to the rabbinate, Rabbi Spinrad operated a personal training business in San Francisco and worked with clients ranging from competitive athletes to cancer survivors and people living with HIV. His training practice was shaped by three questions that still guide his rabbinate and animate his life today: What does it mean to live life well? How do we live in healthy relationships with ourselves and with each other? And, how do we use the gifts of our lives to shine on the world?
Rabbi Spinrad currently serves the Reform movement as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) and on the national planning committee for the CCAR’s annual convention.
He lives in Alexandria with his wife and their two children. In his spare time, Rabbi Spinrad likes to exercise, play fantasy baseball, and read. The last three great books he read were Yossi Klein Halevi’s We Were Dreamers, Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi, and The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson.
CANTOR JASON KAUFMAN
Cantor Jason Kaufman received Cantorial ordination from the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, HUC-JIR, in New York City, where he also received a Master’s in Sacred Music in 2010. A native of Monsey, New York, Cantor Kaufman additionally holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from State University of New York, University at Fredonia, where he majored in voice and minored in Jewish Studies.
From 2011 to 2013, Cantor Kaufman served as Cantor at Congregation Sukkat Shalom in Wilmette, IL. In 2010, he served as Interim Cantor of Touro Synagogue in New Orleans, LA where he co-led its 20th annual nationally-renowned Jazz Fest Shabbat service. As a Cantorial Student, Cantor Kaufman served as Student Cantor to Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in 2010, the World’s Largest LGBT synagogue in NYC. As a student at HUC-JIR, Cantor Kaufman served numerous congregations and healthcare facilities around the country, as well as congregations of the Victorian Union for Progressive Judaism in Melbourne, Australia.
Cantor Kaufman proudly serves on the Board of Directors for the American Conference of Cantors (ACC) where he also represents the ACC on the Union of Reform Judaism, Commission on Social Action. Most recently, he represented the ACC as a featured speaker in the Thousand Minister March at the Department of Justice in 2017, as a call to action for clergy of all faiths to express their values of equality and justice in the public square.
Jason has a love for music of all styles that is sincere, joyful, and speaks to the soul. His recent concert, "Songs to Change the World,” highlighted music of social conscience and raised funds and awareness for local and international refugee work.
Cantor Kaufman volunteers and works closely with numerous Jewish, LGBT, and other advocacy organizations throughout the U.S.
In his spare time, Cantor Kaufman is an avid runner. He has run the Chicago Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, and just completed his 8th marathon at Walt Disney World.
Rabbi emeritus Brett Isserow
Rabbi Dr. Jacob Rader Marcus once told me, "If you don't like Jews, don't become a Rabbi!" As the years pass, those words take on an ever greater significance and I have found that it is indeed my deep love of the Jewish people and Judaism which sustains my life as a Rabbi.
My decision to become a Rabbi began as a desire to explore my own Jewish heritage and learn more about Judaism's many facets. It has been, and continues to be, a fascinating journey, one that enriches and fulfills each new day.
I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and was raised in a family which, although very aware of its Jewishness, was not particularly observant. We "did" all the holidays and celebrated Pesach Seders with lots of family and friends but rarely attended Shabbat services. Under my mother's "Shul or School" rule, I spent most of the festivals sitting in the sun on the stairs in front of our local Orthodox Synagogue.
Post-Bar Mitzvah my formal Jewish education came grinding to a halt. Thereafter, college and building a career as a Chartered Accountant further intervened.
Over a decade and a half later, I became re-engaged in a Reform congregation and soon found myself on the Board, Executive and serving as Treasurer. It occurred to me that I really knew very little about Judaism and so I began a journey of exploration and learning that continues to this day.
In the mid-1980's I applied to Hebrew Union College and spent the first year of the course in Israel. Studying at HUC in Cincinnati was a true gift even for someone rapidly approaching middle age! After all, my teachers were the ones who wrote the books! And besides, I met my wife, Jinny, while we were both at HUC.
Eleven years as an Assistant/Associate Rabbi at The Temple in Atlanta honed my Rabbinic skills. Our children, Anna and Jesse, enlarged our family circle and, yes, radically changed our lives!
Late in 2001, it was time to look for a Congregation at which I could find a home as Senior Rabbi and, hopefully, serve in for many years. Beth El Hebrew Congregation has become that home. The challenges are many, but the rewards are great. I count myself most fortunate to be surrounded by good and decent people who truly want to make this a Kehila Kedosha, a holy community, for whom Jewish values take on real meaning. One only has to walk into the building to get a sense of its warmth and depth.
Beth El has afforded me the opportunity to get involved in the wider community—as a Board Member of the JCCNV, as a member of the Ethics Committee of Inova Alexandria Hospital, as a vice president of both the Washington Board of Rabbis and the mid-Atlantic CCAR Board and in a number of other interfaith and Jewish organizations.
At the moment of Ordination I was asked, "Are you ready to serve the Jewish people?" Nearly twenty years after ordination, my answer to the question is still a resounding "Yes!" You see, I love being a Rabbi and that, for me, makes a world of difference! --Rabbi Brett Isserow