Rabbi Stuart L. Kelman

Rabbi Stuart L. Kelman, PhD, DD

In June 2007, he retired as rabbi of Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley and was granted the title Founding Rabbi, Emeritus.

In 1988, a group of east bay residents gathered in Berkeley and began to doven together twice a month on Shabbat mornings.  The minyan was Conservative, egalitarian, traditional and participatory.  Gradually, a congregation Netivot Shalom evolved.  He was involved from the very beginning and was asked to become its full time rabbi in 1993. Eighteen years after its founding, Rabbi Kelman retired and was named Founding Rabbi, Emeritus.  The congregation has become know for its religious services, preschool, and adult programming. It has taken leadership positions on the issues of gays and lesbians and non-Jews as participants in Conservative congregations.

During retirement, Rabbi Kelman has been involved in the work of the Chevra Kadisha movement.  He was the President of Kavod v’Nichum, the national organization of Chevra Kadishas and served as Dean of the Gamliel Institute, a three year, on-line, certification program for training of Chevra Kadisha leaders.  He is also the one of the founders of Gan Yarok, the first green and Jewish cemetery in North America and is the recipient of the 2012 Leadership Award from the Green Burial Council.  He continues to teach and speak about liturgy, Chevrqa Kadisha, green cemeteries, safrut (Hebrew calligraphy) and Jewish education and to play jazz with local bands!

Work Biography

Executive Director
Agency for Jewish Education of the Greater East Bay – Oakland, CA

First full-time director of this agency. Responsible for program planning, board development, securing of grants and funds, professional development of teachers and principals, teenage programming and family education. Created an agency which had a staff of 6 and enjoys the full involvement and participation of the community.

Assistant Prof. of Jewish Education
Hebrew Union College – Los Angeles, CA

Created and directed an MA/Ph.D. professional program in Jewish Education which yearly produced 10-15 graduates, most of whom are still serving as professionals in the Jewish community. Initiated the internationally known Tartak Resource Center of educational materials. Taught all education courses offered in the Rhea Hirsch School of Education which included: curriculum development, educational philosophy, administration, teaching skills, counseling and supervision. Also taught liturgy in the graduate rabbinical school.

Herzl Schools – Los Angeles, CA

Directed this newly created junior and senior high school day school. Provided the educational and legal foundation for this institution.

Director of Youth Activities
United Synagogue Pacific Southwest Region – Los Angeles, CA

First full-time professional director of this USY region (of 2500 USYers). Initiated collaboration between USY, Ramah, and the Los Angeles Hebrew High School to create a Jewish youth educational community.

Camp Ramah – Ojai, CA

During tenure as director, introduced formal study of Judaica and education to staff and supervised the transition from the camp’s original facility to its current camp and conference center site.

In Addition:
Adjunct Faculty: Melton Research Center, Jewish Theological Seminary, N.Y.
Adjunct Professor: University of Judaism, Los Angeles – Member of summer school faculty for 10 years
Instructor: Lehrhaus Judaica, Berkeley
Education Consultant: Jewish Centers Association, LA; Temple Isaiah, Palm Springs; Temple Emanuel, Beverly Hills; Temple Israel, Long Beach, CA;
Teacher: Los Angeles Hebrew High School, Congregation Adat Ari El


University of Southern California. Ph.D. 1978, Major: Sociology of Education.
Dissertation: “Motives and Goals: Why Parents Send their Children to non-Orthodox Jewish Day Schools?”
Minor: Instructional technology.
California State University at Northridge. MA. Education
Jewish Theological Seminary: Rabbinic Ordination, 1969; MHL, 1967; BRE, 1964; DD, 1994
Columbia University. BS 1964
Advanced studies in Israel at the Hebrew University and Institute for Youth Leaders from Abroad; AK Rice Institute for Group Relations; and Neuro-Linguistic Programming


Nihum Aveilim – A Guide for the Comforter, with Dan Fendel and Rabbi Jason Weiner. Feb. 2015.  EKS Publishing: Oakland, CA

Chesed Shel Emet: The Truest Act of Kindness – Exploring the Meaning of Taharah, an expand third edition. With Dan Fendel. EKS Publishing, Oakland, CA 2014

Mahzor Lev Shalem. Editorial Committee.  NY:Rabbinical Assembly, 2010

“Caring for Non-Jews Within Our Community” with Gordon Freeman. In Jewish Relational Care A-Z. Jack Bloom, editor. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press, 2006

“The Vidui: Jewish Relational Care for the Final Moments of Life”, with Alison Jordan. In Jewish Relational Care A-Z. Jack Bloom, editor. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press, 2006

A Place In the Tent: Intermarriage and Conservative Judaism. Coauthor with seven others involved with the Tiferet Project.  Berkeley: EKS Publishing, 2004

“The Rabbinic Leader and the Volunteer Leader.” with Alison Jordan. Religious Education. Fall 2002

“The Torah Scroll”. in Etz Hayim, NY:RA and USCJ, 2001

Give Me Your Hand. A Congregation Manual for Bikkur Cholim (visiting the sick). Funded by the Cummings Foundation and distributed to all non-orthodox rabbis and rabbinic students in North America, (Shavuot, 1997)

Learn Torah With… A weekly parshat hashavua fax service – coeditor with Joel Grishaver. Torah Aura Publications. Five years of publication. Volumes 1 (1996) and 2 (1999) are in print.

Media Reviewer for Jewish Book World. NY: Jewish Book Council

What We Know About Jewish Education: A Handbook of today’s Research for Tomorrow’s Jewish Education. An edited volume of essays based on current research in Jewish education. Los Angeles:Torah Aura Productions, 1992

“Of Prayer and Process – A Model for Teaching of Jewish Prayer” – in Jewish Teachers Handbook v.3 edited by Audrey Friedman Marcus, Denver: Alternatives in Religious Education, 1982 (with Joel Grishaver)

Mekasher – A Computerized Jewish Learning Network for the Sharing of Educational Needs, Problems, Solutions, and Information. New York: Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education. Yearly, since 1981.

“The Next Step in the Day School Movement.” Shma, October 2, 1982. (with William Cutter)

Prayer Transparencies. Milwaukee, WI: Arbit Books,1982

“Motives and Goals”. Studies in Jewish Education Volume II. Jerusalem, Israel: Hebrew University, 1984

“Graduates of Non-Orthodox Jewish Junior High Schools” (with Sheldon Dorph). unpublished.

“Research in Jewish Religious Education”. Religious Education. Nov-Dec 1980.

“Prayer and Process: Stages of Growth and Development in the Small Group and in Jewish Liturgy”. Religious Education. Summer, 1979

“Parent Motivations for Enrolling a Child in a non-Orthodox Jewish Day School”. Jewish Education. V. 47 #1. Spring, 1979

“Preparation for a Profession: Ability and Uncertainty”. Proceedings: 24th Annual Conference, National Association of Temple Educators, 1978

“The Calligraphy of the Classic Scribe”. The First Jewish Catalogue. (Siegel, Strassfeld and Strassfeld. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1973

Past Community Involvement

Board of Directors: Kavod V’Nichum
Creator of the Chevra Kadishah on the Peninsula
Board of Directors: Cuban American Jewish Mission
One of the founders of the Library Minyan at Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles
Invited participant and speaker at to two Avi Chai Conferences
One of the founders of CAJE, the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education, he was National Chairperson 1983-1986 and chair of two of its conferences (1978, 1980)
East Bay Council of Rabbis: Chair, 1987/88, 1997-98
Jewish Education.Journal Editorial Board
International Conference on Research in Jewish Education: Co-Chair, 1979-1982
How to Deal with Public Acts of Anti-Semitism – Chair of Conference, CAJE and Simon Wisenthal Center, 1982


Scholar in Residence: Regional Hadassah; United Synagogue, American Conference of Cantors
Presenter at nearly all CAJE Conferences
Retreat Program: Melton Research Center – Atlanta; Providence
In service educators’ conferences: Los Angeles, Denver, New Orleans, San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, San Antonio, Long Island
National Hillel Directors Conference
National Conferences: NATE
Invited presenter at LIMMUD, London, England and Stockholm Jewish Community

He has been involved in a project called Ma’ayan Tefilah, a retreat program that engages in an exploration of liturgy in a retreat setting. Together with Debbie Friedman, z”l, and Deborah Newbrun and other scholars of liturgy, they have conducted dozens of 48 hour retreats for teachers, educators, and lay members of synagogues in setting as diverse as rural retreat sites to in-town settings to the campus of the University of Judaism in Los Angeles.


United Synagogue of America: Pacific Southwest Region, in recognition of work as their first full-time Regional Director
Weinberg-Chai Award from the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles. This award is given to a volunteer recognized for his/her innovative program in the Los Angeles Jewish Community: in this case the Western Conference on Alternatives in Jewish Education
The 2012 Leadership Award from the Green Burial Council of America

Professional Memberships

Association for Jewish Studies
Rabbinical Assembly
Central Conference of American Rabbis
National Association of Jewish Chaplains
Religious Education Association
Jewish Arts Community of the Bay (JACOB)


Torah Aura Productions. Academic Consultant.
Genocide (Multi-media production) Educational/editorial consultant. Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles
First Conference on Research in Jewish Education in the Diaspora. Jerusalem, Israel. Invited to deliver paper
Annual Review of Research in Jewish Education, Annual reviewer, 1980-1982
CLAL – Colloquium of Jewish Academics, invited participant
Congregational rabbi for High Holy days, annually, since 1964
As a sofer, his work has appeared in Davka, Shma, at the Skirball Museum and was recently displayed in San Francisco at the Jewish Community Museums exhibition: Illuminations.


Rabbi Kelman is married to Victoria Koltun Kelman who is an internationally recognized professional Jewish family educator and recipient of the prestigious Covenant Award. They have four children and are blessed with ten grandchildren.

October 2019 – Cheshvan 5780