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Rabbi Matt Carl Named New Spiritual Leader of East Midwood Jewish Center

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Published in the Jewish Voice – WEDNESDAY, 30 JULY 2014

Rabbi Matt Carl, the new rabbi at the East Midwood Jewish Center, a 90 year old conservative, egalitarian congregation.
Rabbi Matt Carl, the new rabbi at the East Midwood Jewish Center, a 90 year old conservative, egalitarian congregation.

Rabbi Matt Carl, a rabbi, educator and environmentalist, has been named as the new Rabbi of the East Midwood Jewish Center (EMJC).  The announcement was made by EMJC’s two presidents, Randy Grossman and Toby Sanchez. He succeeds Rabbi Dr. Alvin Kass, who was the spiritual leader of EMJC for 36 years, and now becomes Rabbi Emeritus. Rabbi Kass is also Chief Chaplain of the New York City Police Department, the longest-serving chaplain in the history of the department, 48 years, and the first to achieve the rank of assistant chief. The Center is located at 1625 Ocean Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11210.

Before joining EMJC, Rabbi Carl served as the part-time Rabbi of the Battery Park Synagogue, a 50 family unaffiliated synagogue in New York City from September 2010 until May, 2014. He created, counseled and collaborated with the synagogue’s 20’s and 30’s group, oversaw and supervised the Hebrew school and directed adult education programs.

He was also Director of Community Development and Engagement at Hazon from October, 2013 to May, 2014. Hazon is America’s largest Jewish environmental organization dedicated to “creating healthier and more sustainable communities in the Jewish world and beyond”. Rabbi Carl wrote for Hazon’s website, “The Jew and the Carrot,” which is the homepage for the New Jewish Food Movement, with a focus on health and sustainability, organic eating, nutrition, food politics, and healthy, delicious cooking.

He has also written articles for the newsletter, which covers Jewish family life, parental advice and perspectives. His writings, “My Jewish Learning” can be seen in print and on various blogs. He has written for the American Jewish World Service, which pursues global justice through grassroots change, and is the first American Jewish organization dedicated to alleviating poverty, hunger and disease among people across the globe.   He has lectured on ethical eating and Judaism and taught a 20 week course. “Introduction to Judaism: An Exploration for Curious Adults.”

Rabbi Carl also served as Associate Rabbi of Congregation Mount Sinai, a 150 family independent, equalitarian synagogue in Brooklyn, from 2008 to 2010, where he created programs for the younger generation and unaffiliated Jews. He co-founded the Brooklyn United Jewish High School Program with several other local synagogue educators and established the Brooklyn Bridge Community Supported Agriculture program. From 2011 to 2012 he did financial planning and was an analyst for RP Holdings Group LLC.

Rabbi Carl was born and raised in Long Beach, California, and graduated from Vassar College in 2000 with a BA with honors, majoring in religion. His minor was environmental geography land use analysis. In 2008 he was awarded an MA and Rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary and Machon Schechter, where he specialized in Talmud and Rabbinics.   He has studied on settings ranging from Reform Kollel to a Chassidic Yeshiva. A student of Jewish mysticism, his graduate thesis was entitled “Sex and Breathing as Forms of Hasidic Meditation.” While at JTS he trained as a chaplain at Sloan Kettering Medical Center. He also served on the leadership of Keshet, which helped secure inclusion of gay and lesbian students.

He was the campus rabbi at Hunter College in Manhattan. An alumnus of AVODAH, 2000-2001, The Jewish Service Corps, Rabbi Carl integrated service and justice concerns.  He serves on the Rabbinic Cabinet of J Street, “the political home for the pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans”, is a member of Limmud NY, the Freelancers Union, “A Federation of the Unaffiliated, a resource and guide for spiritual, educational and lifecycle (wedding, funeral, etc) needs.”  He is also affiliated with Altshul, in Park Slope, a lay-lead, independent, egalitarian minyan.” and Shir HaMaalot, “Song of the Heights,” a volunteer-led, “trad-egal” havurah that hosts monthly musical Friday night services and a vegetarian potluck dinner in Prospect/Crown Heights Brooklyn, usually at Union Temple.