[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]
Louisville Beit Sefer Yachad’s new school year is underway, and this year, the school welcomes a new director, Rabbi David Feder. As was announced in Community last January, LBSY’s long time principal, Sam Gordon, is retiring in December. They will work together until the end of the year, during which time, Gordon will mentor Rabbi Feder.
Rabbi Feder’s lifelong interest in Jewish education led him to apply for the position in Louisville. “I have served as rabbi and educator for the last 15 years,” he said, “and I have been heavily involved in Jewish education prior to that.
“What brings me here,” he continued, “is the opportunity to do those things and be very involved in educating a new generation of Jewish students and, hopefully, giving them strong, lifelong connections to Judaism.”
As he begins his tenure in Louisville, Rabbi Feder said, “My plans are to familiarize myself with what’s happening now and to begin to build upon that.”
Rabbi Feder comes to Louisville from Morgantown, WV, where he served as the sole rabbi and director of education for the Tree of Life Congregation for nine years. At that congregation, he built an active Jewish community, increasing opportunities for both formal and informal Jewish learning, keeping the congregation abreast of worship practices in the Reform movement, expanding participation in music, engaging in outreach and forging ties with the general community.
While there, he also taught in the Religious Studies Program and the Honors College at West Virginia University, coordinated and taught classes on interfaith issues at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, served as president of the Monongalia County Ministerial Association, was chaplain for the Pennsylvania Department of State Correctional Institute – Greene, and served as rabbi at Emma Kaufmann Camp, among other things.
Prior to that, he served as rabbi of two congregations: Temple Adath B’nai Israel in Evansville, IN and Congregation Bet Haverim in Davis, CA; and assistant rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in Oak Park, MI.
Rabbi Feder earned his A.B. in history and Jewish studies from Washington University in St. Louis, MO, and his M.A. in Hebrew letters and rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati.
Growing up in Memphis, Rabbi Feder’s path to the rabbinate began early. A member of Temple Israel, his interest in Judaism was sparked as he was preparing for his bar mitzvah and continued through high school. He was active in his Jewish youth group, and attended Henry S. Jacobs Camp for Living Judaism.
At the time, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now the Union for Reform Judaism) offered the Sinai Program, an independent study program for high school students, and he took advantage of the opportunity.
While in college, he was active in Hillel and the Reform chavurah at Washington University.
Rabbi Feder’s wife, Karen, and their 10-year-old twins, Ari and Orly, are still in Evansville, but he hopes they can join him here in Louisville by the first of the year.
“I’m glad to be here,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting to know folks and learning my way around.”