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:
Elul Project: The Stories of Our Lives Rabbi Cassi Kail firstname.lastname@example.org “Storytelling,” explains author Robert McKee, “is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world.” Our Jewish tradition is based on stories. The Torah includes narratives about our people’s moral, spiritual, and communal evolution. It describes tales of struggle and faith, interpersonal challenges […]
Friday, July 30, 2021/21 Av, 5781 Parashat Eikev Deuteronomy 7:12–11:25 Dear Friends, I love the Olympics. I delight in watching everything from synchronized swimming to skateboarding. My favorite event is gymnastics, and there is no one better than Simone Biles. I watched the qualifying rounds with concern as Simone made uncharacteristic errors. In interviews, she […]
Friday, July 23, 2021/14 Av, 5781 Parashat Va-et’hanan Deuteronomy 3:23–7:11 Dear Friends, This Shabbat is Shabbat Nachamu (the Shabbat of Comfort), our first Shabbat after Tisha B’Av, the commemoration of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Traditionally, Tisha B’Av is a day of mourning, ending with celebration, as we mourn, and then turn our […]
Friday, July 16, 2021/7 Av, 5781 Parashat D’varim Deuteronomy 1:1−3:22 Dear Friends, Last Sunday, over two thousand people gathered in Washington D.C. for a rally against antisemitism entitled “NO FEAR: A Rally in Solidarity with the Jewish People.” They were Jews and people from different cultures and traditions who showed up to support the Jewish […]
Friday, July 9, 2021/29 Tammuz, 5781 Parashat Matot-Masei Numbers 30:2–36:13 Dear Friends, Five sisters passionately pleaded their case before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the chieftains, and the Jewish community in last week’s Torah portion. “Our father [Zelophehead] died in the wilderness… He left no sons. Please don’t let our father’s name be lost to his […]
Friday, July 2, 2021/22 Tammuz, 5781 Parashat Pinchas Numbers 25:10−30:1 Dear Friends, What is the most important verse in the Torah? A midrash in Ein Yaakov, a Talmudic compilation by Rabbi Yaakov ibn Habib, offers three different opinions. Rabbi Zoma says that the most central and inclusive verse is the Shema, “Hear Israel, Adonai is […]
Annual Meeting Report Rabbi Cassi Kail email@example.com 5781 was unpredictable in ways we never could have imagined and will certainly never forget. It was a year of struggle and loss, and challenge and physical isolation. It was also a year that offered gifts, new insights, and a renewed passion for strengthening our nearly 100-year-old congregation. […]
Friday, June 18, 2021/8 Tammuz, 5781 Parashat Hukat Numbers 19:1−22:1 Dear Friends, This week’s Torah portion, Parashat Chukat, always reminds me of this famous old joke, but even more so, as we have been once again witnessing the escalations of tensions in Israel, between the Israelis and Palestinians over the past month. Indeed, in this […]
Friday, June 11, 2021/1 Tammuz, 5781 Parashat Korah Numbers 16:1−18:32 Dear Friends, Earlier this week, I was blessed to participate in a Women’s Rabbinic Network (WRN) Conference for the very first time. The conference was entitled “Journey to Fifty,” as Rabbi Sally Priesand, the first woman rabbi ordained in the US, began her fiftieth year […]
Friday, June 4, 2021/24 Sivan, 5781 Parashat Sh’lach L’cha Numbers 13:1−15:41 Dear Friends, “Mom, why do you have so many names?” my children asked when they were young. They called me mommy, friends and family called me Cassi, and when I was in temple, people called me Rabbi. How could it be that I had […]