Dear Temple Beth El Community,
My name is Cassi Kail, and I am both humbled and overjoyed by the opportunity to serve as the next Rabbi of Temple Beth El. This past summer I moved to San Pedro with my husband, Josh, and our children Noam and Talia.
From the moment I walked through the synagogue’s doors, I knew I wanted to be a part of the Beth El community. It was not the stunning new building that most impressed me, but rather the people within. I feel immense gratitude to work alongside the superbly talented and devoted leadership of Cantor Ilan Davidson, Racheli Morris, Carrie Hernandez and Shoni Gramcko. Conversations with lay leaders such as Gale Swartz and Eric Imley demonstrated a sense of pride in Beth El’s rich 97-year-old history. I am proud to join in their commitment to upholding this rich legacy while embracing the enormous opportunities of today.
Growing up in Brooklyn, NY, I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a rabbi. I delight in creating meaningful worship, studying and teaching Torah, interfaith work, and tikkun olam. Of all the work I have been blessed to do since my ordination in 2011, I find relationship building to be the most gratifying. It will be my top priority to find opportunities to get to know you when I arrive in San Pedro this Summer. I am so grateful for the congregational leaders who are already volunteering to open their home for informal social gatherings so that we can begin what I hope will prove to be meaningful and long-lasting connections. In Pirkei Avot, our ancestors teach, “Make for yourself a teacher, acquire a friend.” I look forward to the many years of learning and of friendship ahead of us.
Rabbi Cassi Kail, a native New Yorker, was ordained in 2011 from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where she also received a Master’s in Jewish Literature. For the past seven years, she worked as a congregational rabbi for Temple Emanu-El of Utica, NY and then Temple Or Elohim in Jericho, NY. Rabbi Kail is a proud member of the Interfaith Clergy Council of Syosset and Woodbury. Previously, she served on the steering committees of InterFaith Matters, Reform Jewish Voice and the Empire State Anti-Poverty Initiative of the Mohawk Valley. While in Seminary, she co-founded a young egalitarian minyan called The Wandering Jews of Astoria, serving unaffiliated Jews in their 20s and 30s. Rabbi Kail is passionate about worship, Israel, interfaith work, and supporting people on their individual Jewish journeys. She loves teaching people of all ages, singing, and playing guitar. Rabbi Kail and her husband, Josh are proud parents of their children, Noam and Talia.
Rabbi Cassi may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some of Rabbi Cassi’s recent parashot, sermons, and articles from the Kol Beit El:
Friday, October 30, 2020 /12 Heshvan, 5781 Parashat Lekh L’kha Genesis 12:1–17:27 Dear Friends, This week’s portion introduces us to Avram and Sarai, two brave souls who heeded God’s call to set on a journey away from the only home they had ever known. Abraham never felt comfortable in the world of idolatry. Midrashim explained […]
Self Care Rabbi Cassi Kail email@example.com I write this article as the month of Heshvan is beginning. Just after the four major holidays that occur in quick succession during the High Holy Day season, the month of Heshvan represents a change of pace. The Talmud refers to this month as Mar Heshvan; the word Mar […]
Friday, October 16, 2020 /28 Tishrei, 5781 Parashat B’reishit Genesis 1:1-6:8 Dear Friends, The first time I held my son, I had two thoughts. The first was one of sheer gratitude that I had the privilege of being the mother of this incredible little boy. The second was fear. Was I up to this enormous […]
Friday, October 9, 2020 /21 Tishrei, 5781 Parashat Sh’mini Atzeret Deut. 34:1-12, Gen. 1:1-2.3 Dear Friends, Simhat Torah is a relatively modern holiday. Unlike Sukkot, Simhat Torah isn’t mentioned in the Torah or even in Talmud. The Torah does mention a separate holiday that also begins this evening, called Shemini Atzeret. Taking place on the […]
Friday, October 2, 2020 /14 Tishrei, 5781 Parashat Yom Rishon shel Sukkot Leviticus 23:33–44 Dear Friends, This evening, the joyous holiday of Sukkot begins. We will celebrate with virtual Sukkah nights, opportunities to visit the Sukkah and shake the lulav and etrog, and festive prayer. Since its origins center around the fall harvest, part of […]
One mitzvah leads to another – A contagion worth spreading On Rosh Hashanah, many of us took part in a ritual called Tashlich, in which we toss our metaphorical sins into the water. Whether communally or individually, we took time to reflect on the year’s ups and downs, our missteps, and the choices we plan […]
Change is Possible, After All Derek Black was born into a family of white nationalists. His father was not only the grandmaster of the Ku Klux Klan, but the creator of the popular white supremacist website Stormfront. At a young age, he was primed to be a future leader in the Ku Klux Klan. By […]
Friday, September 25, 2020 /7 Tishrei, 5781 Parashat Ha-azinu Deuteronomy 31:1-31:52 Dear Friends, Ha-azinu, this week’s Torah portion, is filled with the song of Moses. How do we know it is a song? Like other songs in the Torah, i.e. Shirat Hayam, it breaks the columnar writing of the Torah, into a poetic writing shape. […]
L’chaim: TO LIFE! Rosh Hashanah 5781/2020 Rabbi Cassi Kail At the end of March, I received a call from my dad. He was worried about my mother’s deteriorating health. She had been struggling with COVID-19 for several days, and it was clear that her condition was declining rapidly. Dad had just put my mother in […]
Friday, September 11, 2020 /22 Elul, 5780 Parashat Nitzavim/Vayeileh Deuteronomy 29:9–31:30 Dear Friends, This morning Elul Reflections came to an end. I’m sorry to see it go. For the past 29 days, we have listened to moving stories and recollections. We have seen phenomenal artwork and heard original music. We have received reflections on forgiveness, […]