Rabbi Kevin Bernstein named interim leader for Seaside

September 10, 2020

Seaside Jewish Community announced Rabbi Kevin Bernstein has joined as its interim religious leader.

Over the next year, he will work half time with Seaside. Part of his job will be to assist the congregation in seeking and hiring a settled religious leader next year.

Bernstein is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College with special training in being an interim religious leader whose goal is to assist the congregation in determining requirements for a future religious leader.

“We are extremely fortunate that Rabbi Bernstein has joined our synagogue,” said Seaside President Marsha Davis. “We look forward to him leading our religious studies. We also know that he will help us find a permanent rabbi to meet the needs of our growing community.”

Originally from the Washington, D.C. area, Bernstein resides in suburban Philadelphia. Working in the Jewish community is a second career for him. His first career was as a veterinarian. He attended veterinary school at Purdue University, and holds a bachelor of science degree in animal science, and a master of science degree in immunology and virology, both from the University of Maryland. He worked as a small-animal clinician for several years, and as a vaccine research scientist in Israel and for Intervet America Inc. in Millsboro. During that time, he and his family lived in Lewes.

In 1993, Bernstein and his wife Rebecca Meyer fulfilled a dream that they shared, having both grown up in Habonim Zionist youth movement, and made aliya by moving to Israel. They lived for two years on Kibbutz Shefayim, and then four years in Kfar Saba. It was during this time, and due to a close association with Hod Ve Hadar, a conservative synagogue in Kfar Saba, that Bernstein was inspired to change careers upon their return to the United States.

They relocated to the Philadelphia area where he attended rabbinical college and became a rabbi in 2007. During his studies in Philadelphia, he worked as a teacher in the Perelman Jewish Day School system, as a branch coordinator for the Jewish Community High School of Gratz College, and for the Union of Reform Judaism’s Justice Works Mitzvah Corps Program.

Since graduation, he served several congregations as interim or sabbatical rabbi, and consulted for Moving Traditions and for the Mandel Center for Jewish Education of the JCC Association of North America. He has served as director of education for Germantown Jewish Centre and Beth David Reform Congregation, and as school rabbi for the Robert Saligman Middle School at Perelman Jewish Day School.

“I became a rabbi as a pathway leading to working in the American Jewish community as a well-informed and well-trained Jewish professional. Helping Jewish families find expressions of their Judaism in ways that are meaningful to them continues to motivate and challenge me on this journey,” said Bernstein.

Married for more than 35 years, Bernstein and his wife are enjoying an empty nest, with daughters living in Tel Aviv and Philadelphia. He’s a sports fan and has been an avid recreational softball player for the past 40 years, including a stint on the Israel National Fast Pitch Team.

Seaside, established in 1997 by a handful of people, has grown to a membership of more than 400 families. It is an unaffiliated, egalitarian and inclusive community that embraces all levels of observance and promotes a sense of extended family among members.

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