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 email@example.com.
Here are some of Rabbi Cassi’s recent parashot, sermons, and articles from the Kol Beit El:
Friday, January 8, 2021/24 Tevet, 5781 Parashat Sh’mot Exodus 1:1–6:1 Dear Friends, Some weeks beg for Shabbat; this is one of them. I am just beginning to process the violent insurrection in our nation’s capital two days ago. Like many of you, I anticipated that Wednesday would be an inflammatory and challenging day for our […]
Resetting the Table Rabbi Cassi Kail firstname.lastname@example.org I grew up in a mixed family. My mother was a democrat, and my father, a republican. Conversations around the dinner table often erupted into passionate debate over governmental policies, economics, and religion, especially when we had guests. My house defied the age-old rule never to talk politics […]
Friday, January 1, 2021/17 Tevet, 5781 Parashat Va-y’hi Genesis 47:28–50:26 Dear Friends, Happy New Year and almost Shabbat Shalom. This Shabbat we read one of my favorite Torah portions, Parashat Va-y’hi. In this portion, Jacob blesses his children and grandchildren, as he lie on his death bed. In blessing, he recounts his observations and foreshadows […]
Friday, December 25, 2020/10 Tevet, 5781 Parashat Vayigash Genesis 44:18–47:27 Dear Friends, Growing up, my family was not religious, but there was one thing I could religiously count on, Chinese food on Christmas. I delighted in seeing just about every Jew I knew as I waited in line and enjoyed a delicious meal. The trend […]
Friday, December 18, 2020 /3 Tevet, 5781 Parashat Mikeitz Genesis 41:1–44:17 Dear Friends, Joseph, “the dreamer,” had a remarkable gift, his ability to interpret prophetic dreams. Although the Torah makes his interpretations look easy, the Rabbis demonstrate that interpretation is an art form, requiring skill, wisdom, and even righteousness. Bereishit Rabbah 89:8 offers a story […]
Friday, December 11, 2020 /25 Kislev, 5781 Parashat Vayeishev Genesis 37:1–40:23 Dear Friends, Last night, over 100 families participated in the temple’s program for the first night of Hanukkah. Together we sang, we brought light into the world, and rejoiced in the community. This year the Hanukkah story feels especially poignant. Hanukkah offers light in […]
Friday, December 4, 2020 /18 Kislev, 5781 Parashat Vayishlah Genesis 32:4–36:43 Dear Friends, Is reconciliation possible? This question is at the heart of this week’s Torah portion. After decades apart, Jacob and Esau prepared to meet for the first time since Jacob stole Esau’s blessing of the firstborn, and Esau vowed revenge. The tension was […]
This Hanukkah, Be the Light Rabbi Cassi Kail email@example.com Nine months into the pandemic, every one of us has felt the impact. Somehow, around Thanksgiving, the emotional toll feels particularly pronounced. After my fourth conversation in one day with community members struggling from grief, loneliness, and isolation, I hung up the phone and thought, “Hanukkah […]
Friday, November 27, 2020 /11 Kislev, 5781 Parashat Vayetzei Genesis 28:10–32:3 God IS In This Place This week’s Torah reading is the 7th in our annual cycle, and one of my favorite Torah portions, as we continue the tales of our patriarch, Jacob, and how he develops his own relationship with the Holy One. While […]
Friday, November 20, 2020 /4 Kislev, 5781 Parashat Toldot Genesis 25:19–28:9 Dear Friends, “Before the pandemic, I didn’t say ‘hi’ to my neighbors when I passed them on the street,” explained Los Angeles native Isabel Adler. “But like so many things, neighbor-to-neighbor relations changed in March, when LA’s stay-at-home-order went into effect. Almost immediately, our […]