Society Hill Synagogue to Install Rabbi Nathan Kamesar

Rabbi Nathan Kamesar. Courtesy of Society Hill Synagogue

Leslie Feldman

A rabbi’s installation usually takes place during the first year of service to signal the passing of a torch between two rabbis and symbolizes a new chapter in the community’s history.
The pandemic changed all that for Society Hill Synagogue and Rabbi Nathan Kamesar, who has led the independent synagogue since July 2020. His installation celebration was postponed due to the pandemic.

Now, on March 10, he will officially be installed at a ceremony in which congregants and well-wishers will come together and express their gratitude to him for his leadership and dedication.

A Flourishing Shul
“We are thrilled to officially install Rabbi Kamesar,” said Carmen Hayman, the synagogue’s president. “He has been an inspiring spiritual leader and a driving force behind our congregation’s growth and vitality. Since March 2020, Society Hill Synagogue has grown from 279 member households to almost 350. We look forward to continuing our journey together under Rabbi Kamesar’s guidance.”

Kamesar’s journey with the synagogue began in 2014 when he joined as a rabbinic intern. In 2018, he became associate rabbi and, since 2020, he has been the rabbi. Under his leadership, he has grown a congregation that is rooted in tradition and emphasizes lifelong learning, social action, soulful music and prayer, and a sacred, inclusive community.

“Our synagogue has always been a hub of religious, spiritual, intellectual and social life, and we continue to strengthen our presence in the community, he said.

One of the changes Kamesar made since coming on board was to build the Shabbat experience.

“We moved Sunday school to Saturdays instead of Sundays for an intergenerational learning experience, and we also started a young families Shabbatot on Friday evenings and Saturday morning,” he said. ”Our congregants have really welcomed these into their weekly schedule, and it is a nice opportunity to involve all members of the family.”

Looking to the Future
Kamesar is making adult learning a priority over the next few years and is inviting guest speakers who will talk about where we are as a society and where we are going. There is a roster of adult classes each week.

The rabbi also recognizes that a key part of the synagogue is about expanding the tent. He said some groups have found it difficult to feel at home in synagogues, including interfaith families, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ+ community and Jews of color.

“A dedicated group of committed volunteers set about to examine, review and rebuild the systems of welcome and inclusion we have in order for people with these identities to feel embraced when they come here,” he said. “I have seen firsthand the impact of these volunteer efforts.”

A Rabbi With a Law Degree
Kamesar was ordained at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2018, where he also earned a master’s degree in Hebrew letters. Additionally, he holds an M.S. degree in nonprofit leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. Before his rabbinical journey, he pursued a career in law, working at the law firm Skadden Arps.

Throughout his tenure, Kamesar has demonstrated a commitment to education, social justice and community engagement. He has taught courses on various Jewish subjects and has been actively involved in numerous community organizations, including the Center City Kehillah and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Philadelphia.

“Our rabbi has become an integral part of the community, demonstrating unwavering commitment, passion and leadership,” Hayman added. “With his profound knowledge, compassionate guidance and vibrant spirit, he has enriched the lives of congregants and strengthened the synagogue’s bonds.”

Kamesar concluded, “I am grateful to this community for so many things, including welcoming my family, supporting a vision of creating community and marking this new chapter in our community.”

Leslie Feldman is a Philadelphia-area freelance writer.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here