Clergy & Staff

Rabbi David Ackerman ~
David Rabbi David Ackerman is the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Am Israel in Penn Valley, PA where he teaches Torah, plays guitar, and works with others to build up a sacred community rich in learning, spirituality and kindness. Since coming to Beth Am Israel in 2009, Rabbi Ackerman has focused on expanding Jewish learning opportunities for adults and children, on highlighting the music and contemplative practice of prayer, and on deepening the congregation’s involvement in the work of interfaith relations, social justice and activism.

Educated at Princeton University (A.B in History, 1983) and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (M.A. and Ordination, 1990), David has served as Assistant Rabbi at Anshe Emet Synagogue in Chicago, Rabbi at Tiferet Bet Israel in Blue Bell, PA, and Rabbi for National Outreach at JTS. He has studied at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, Yeshivat Hadar in NYC, and is a graduate of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s clergy leadership program.

Rabbi Ackerman has served in many leadership roles in the wider community. Currently, he serves on the board of the Katz Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, on the advisory board of the Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Greater Philadelphia (JFCS), as president of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the Rabbinical Assembly, on the executive committee of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia, on the board of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and on the editorial committee for Siddur Lev Shalem.

David and his wife Nomi Shapiro are the grateful parents of Josh (23), Elijah (19) and Rosie (11).

Click here to go to Rabbi David’s blog.

Hazzan Harold Messinger ~

Hazzan Harold Messinger is now entering his tenth year as Hazzan at Beth Am Israel. In addition to leading and organizing Shabbat and Festival services, Harold teaches kids, teens and adults about Jewish Music, Israel, Torah Trope and prayer. Harold’s driving goal/passion is to empower the entire congregation to sing out, harmonize, pray with joy and intention and deepen the community’s connection to the liturgy of the Siddur, to Jewish music in general and to help each person find their own spiritual path.

Harold grew up in Havertown, PA and attended Solomon Schecter Day School and Akiba Hebrew Academy, while summering at Camp Ramah in the Poconos. He holds two master’s degrees, one in Expressive Arts Therapy (Lesley University) and a second in Cantorial Studies and Sacred Jewish Music (Gratz College). After living in Israel for seven years in the 90’s where he played in rock/folk bands and worked as youth advisor for USY, Ramah and the Nesiya Institute, Harold returned to the Main Line to work in Informal Jewish Education at Akiba Hebrew Academy, and later as a Music teacher in Austin Texas. Harold currently lives in Merion Station with his wife Kes and their three children, Cole, Jonah and Juliana. For seven summers, Harold worked as the Musician in Residence at the Brandeis Collegiate Institute in Simi Valley, California. In recent years, Harold’s obsession with puppets has led to the creation of several Youtube videos, most notably the Modeh Ani video now with more than 54,000 ‘hits’He has recorded three CD’s including co-producing a CD of sacred Jewish and Gospel music with Zion Baptist Church and Main Line Reform Temple.