About Rabbi David

The first time I stepped foot in Beth Am Israel’s sanctuary, I knew this was home. The warmth and light, the feeling of spiritual uplift, drew me in a deep and powerful way. And the community’s vibe mirrors this precisely. Join us here and you’ll see what I mean. My goal is for Beth Am Israel to be the place where you can explore how Judaism can add meaning to your life and to your family’s life. We do a lot of exploring here together. Through learning. Through prayer. And through doing good in the world. These are the three central pillars of Jewish life, and they are Beth Am Israel’s, too. At Beth Am Israel, you will see the many paths we take to explore learning, prayer and repairing the world together. More ways than you could possibly experience. Our goal is to make space for as many ‘adventures of the soul’ as possible. So you can find the ones that inspire you to connect and to find meaning on your own journey –and your family’s journey. Through this exploration we achieve our other goal here at Beth Am Israel: for you to feel part of an inclusive, participatory community that gives you and your family a sense of belonging. In this connected community, we share together the rhythm of our lives – from the anticipated joyful life cycle events to the unanticipated times of struggle and need. We truly take care of one another as only a weave of committed souls can. I’ve been blessed to serve as Beth Am Israel’s rabbi since 2009. My involvements outside our shul reflect its commitments, and mine. I’m honored to sit on the board of the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at Penn. I had the privilege of serving on the editorial committee of the Conservative Movement’s new prayer book, Siddur Lev Shalem. I chair the Ethics Committee of Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Greater Philadelphia, on whose board I also sit. And I spend a lot of time participating in communal activities through the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia, the Jewish Community Relations Council and POWER Metro, a regional movement for social justice. I’m motivated by the principles of community organizing and by our tradition’s call to us to repair the world each and every day. My wife, Naomi Shapiro, and I live in Penn Valley; we’re the proud parents of Josh, Elijah, and Rosie and our dog Seamus. Enough about me! What I’d really like is the opportunity to get to know you. Please contact me at rabbidavid@bethamisrael.org. Let’s set up a time to talk.

To err is human…Shabbat Vayikra/Zakhor 5779 (2019)

March 15, 2019


“an inadvertent violation that involves committing an act…” – in Hebrew, shig’gat ha-ma’aseh (שגגת המעשה). Such is the rabbinic understanding of the case described in our parashah. “If any person from among [...]

The Work of our Hands – Shabbat Tetzaveh 5779 (2019)

February 15, 2019


Ma’asei yadeinu – deeds done with our hands – are very much on my mind as Shabbat Tetzaveh approaches. I’ve spent today (Thursday) walking in Memphis, much of it at the [...]

The Zigzag Path – Shabbat Beshallah / Shabbat Shira 5779 (2019)

January 18, 2019


"Whereas a cow extends its neck in a straight line, a camel curves its neck." So remarks R Shimon b Elazar in Talmud Yerushalmi Eruvin (2:1, 20a). Strange as it [...]

Night Moves – Shabbat Bo 5779 (2019)

January 11, 2019


“Most of one’s knowledge is acquired at night.” So writes R Moses Maimonides (Rambam), the 12th century philosopher and halakhist. (Rambam, Laws of Torah Study 3:13). Quoting a series of [...]

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