About Rabbi Neal

Hello and welcome to my archives. About me: I grew up in Maryland, went to college in Chicago, and in the early 90’s, spent a year in Israel, on kibbutz and working for an American high school program. After that, I earned a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies from York University in Toronto, where my Master’s paper synthesized environmental ethics, Jewish theology, and contemporary environmental philosophy. 

Then I did some further Jewish studies at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia, where I spent three years before transferring to the new Conservative rabbinical school at the University of Judaism (now American Jewish University) in Los Angeles. I was ordained in 1999 as part of the first graduating class of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies- the fourth graduate of the Ziegler school, to be precise. 

Then in 1999, I returned to Toronto, where I joined Kolel: the Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish learning, a non-denominational adult outreach center as Director of Outreach. I had learned with Kolel while in graduate school so it felt like coming home. But after two years in Toronto I found myself in Swampscott, MA, as the rabbi of the now-merged Temple Israel (which became part of Congregation Shirat Hayam.) 

Next stop: chaplain residency at the Miriam Hospital, in Providence, Rhode Island. Then I came to Poughkeepsie, NY in 2006 to serve as rabbi of Temple Beth-El, a position I held until 2014 when I became Director of Spiritual Care Services at Vassar Brothers Medical Center, also in Poughkeepsie (Queen City of the Hudson! No, really, Google that.) At Vassar Brothers, I’m honored to be the co-chair and coordinator of the Ethics Committee, serve on staff support projects, and work with the best team of chaplains on the continent. 

I’ve also served as a volunteer jail chaplain, a kosher supervisor, and board member of several Jewish and community organizations. I’m currently the Vice-President of Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains and working on a Doctor of Ministry degree from Hartford International University (formerly Hartford Seminary.) Someday I’m going to ride a century. Probably no d’var Torah that week. 


  1. Jim Wald said

    Hi Rabbi Neal,

    It was good to see you at Phyllis’ funeral today. I am really glad you had a chance to speak at the service. You really captured her essence.

    Thank you,

    Jim Wald

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Anne Mazonson said

    Rabbi Neal,
    I deeply enjoyed your commentary
    on Ki Tisa. I would appreciate your adding me to your email list so that I can receive your weekly commentaries.
    Thank you.

    Anne Mazonson

  3. Jennifer Volturno said

    dear rabbi neal
    i believe you are the rabbi visiting with my mother, who is in isolation at vassar hospital. she has been telling me how great it is to be able to speak with you. it really does seem to have lifted her spirits a great deal. i wanted to reach out to you and thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you are doing for her (rona). it is hard to be far from her, to know she is alone, but not now, things are easier for us. knowing you are there is a true blessing.
    thank you so much

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