Clergy

Alexander Davis, Rabbi Rabbi Alexander Davis
Alexander Davis is the senior rabbi of Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park, MN where he previously served as the associate rabbi. He received his B.A. in German Studies from Grinnell College and in 1999 graduated from the Jewish Theological Seminary with rabbinic ordination and an M.A. in Jewish Education. Since moving to the Twin Cities, Rabbi Davis has served on a variety of local boards and has participated in national conferences on Judaism and spirituality and synagogue leadership. He is passionate about learning and teaching Torah and lives to share the beauty, wisdom and meaning of Jewish living with others. In addition, he loves cooking, travel and the arts. Rabbi Davis grew up in Portland, Oregon and lived in Jerusalem and New York City before moving with his wife, Esther, to the Twin Cities. They are blessed with four boys, Yonah, Yaakov, Micah and Amichai.
» Posts in the Clergy Corner by Rabbi Alexander Davis
» Posts from Rabbi Davis during his sabbatical
» Sermons by Rabbi Alexander Davis

Avi S. Olitzky, Rabbi Rabbi Avi S. Olitzky
Rabbi Avi S. Olitzky graduated from the Joint Program at Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2003 where he was awarded a BA in Sociology and a BA in Talmud and Rabbinics. Rabbi Olitzky went on to receive an MA in Midrash in October 2007 and his ordination as a rabbi in May 2008. He is particularly interested in making Jewish learning accessible to all backgrounds, levels and interests. Whether it be minutiae of Halakhah, fantastic strands of Midrash, or examining the intricacies of Kashrut and daily Jewish observance, Rabbi Olitzky is at home with a book in his hand and a willing Chavruta to match. While in Rabbinical School, Rabbi Olitzky served as a US Navy CCPO and reached the rank of Lieutenant. Stemming from a deep involvement in USY as a youth, Rabbi Olitzky has continued to commit himself to youth work over the years, believing that youth groups are vital to developing a Jewish identity in young people. Rabbi Olitzky is also an avid hockey fan, and looks forward to finally seeing the Golden Gophers play in person (on a Saturday night!). Rabbi Olitzky is married to Sarah who holds a PhD in Bilingual School Psychology, and shares his passion for food and vegetarianism. The Olitzky’s are blessed with three children, Aliza, Akiva and Miryam.
» Posts in the Clergy Corner by Rabbi Avi S. Olitzky
» Sermons by Rabbi Avi S. Olitzky

Audrey Abrams, Cantor Cantor Audrey Abrams
Cantor Abrams, originally from Rochester, New York, has a B.M. in Music Therapy from Michigan State University and an M.A. in Music Education and Therapy from the University of Minnesota. She has worked with a variety of populations in the Music Therapy field, including geriatrics, psychiatric and physically handicapped. She began her service at Beth El in 1990 as High Holyday Hazzan Sheni. At the time she lived in Connecticut and commuted back to Minneapolis for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur each year. In 1995, when she and her family returned to the Twin Cities, Cantor Abrams became Beth El’s Program Director. In 2001, she received her certification from Hebrew Union College’s Cantorial Certification Program and became Beth El’s first Associate Cantor in the fall of 2002. Cantor Abrams has conducted services at a variety of congregations in Connecticut, Virginia, New York and Minneapolis, was a featured soloist with the Mendelssohn Club Choir of Connecticut, sung with the Minnesota Chorale and has been the soprano for the Twin Cities quintet, Kolot, since 1995. She is married to David, and they have two daughters, Rachel and Sally and Louise, the cat.
» Posts in the Clergy Corner by Cantor Audrey Abrams

Neil Newman, Cantor Emeritus Cantor Neil Newman
Cantor Newman joined the Beth El staff in 1980 after serving congregations in Philadelphia and Syracuse. In addition to his Bachelor of Sacred Music and Cantorial Investiture from the School of Sacred Music of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, he holds an M.A. in Religious Education and a Doctorate in Educational Administration and Supervision from Syracuse University. Cantor Newman supervises and teaches in the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Programs both for our young students as well as adults. He is advisor to the Beth El Music and Arts (BEMA) and the Lihyot B’kesher (College-Age Keep-In-Touch) committees. He served for eight years as chairman of the American Conference of Cantors Certification Committee, mentoring candidates through studies leading to cantorial certification. Cantor Newman is married to Saranee. They have five children and four grandchildren.
» Posts in the Clergy Corner by Cantor Neil Newman

Kassel E. Abelson, Rabbi Emeritus
Rabbi Abelson first came to Beth El in 1948, leaving in 1951 for the military and returning in 1957 as assistant Rabbi to Rabbi David Aronson, Beth El’s first Rabbi.

He has been a devoted teacher and leader stepping down as Beth El senior Rabbi in 1992 to become active in setting national Judaic policy. During his forty plus years as Beth El’s senior rabbi, Rabbi Abelson created United Synagogue Youth and an egalitarian relationship for both men and women in the study and reading of the Torah. He is also responsible for a strong Tarbut (B’nai mitzvah training) Program and Rimonim-a post-B’nai Mitzvah class, in which teens teach future Bnai Mitzvah candidates.
» Sermons by Rabbi Kassel Abelson