CCAR Convention

The Privilege of Teaching Torah

Rabbi Kenneth I. Segel shares the most moving aspects of his celebrated career as a Reform rabbi.

Each year at CCAR Convention, we honor members of our organization who were ordained 50 years ago or more. In advance of CCAR Convention 2020, March 22-25 in Baltimore, Rabbi Kenneth I. Segel shares the most moving aspects of his celebrated career.

The teaching of Torah is a high privilege. I have disciplined myself to study, to learn and grow in order to feel authentic as a rabbi. The pulpit has been the “picture window” of my rabbinate. To touch the minds and hearts of people is a thrilling experience. My challenge has been “to bring the timeless to bear upon the timely.”  

The religious imperative to which I have tried to give voice is the one that says: Create, do not destroy. Respect, do not hurt. Love, do not hate. Grow, do not stagnate.  

I have seen ordinary people live extraordinary lives. They embrace and reflect hope and idealism. They have found a viable balance between the comfort of the familiar and the challenge of the untried.  hey have stretched “neighbor” to encompass all humans. I have witnessed countless examples of personal triumph over tragedy.

I have been richly blessed by the love and scrutiny of my dear wife of 50 years, Sandra. She has made me a better person, a better Jew, and a better rabbi.

Kenneth I. Segel was ordained at Hebrew Union College in 1970. He has served historic congregations in the United States and Canada and has built congregations in New Orleans; Fresno, California; and Scottsdale, Arizona. He’s taught at five universities, published three children’s books and two adult books, and has been invited to offer Opening Prayers before the House of Representatives and the United States Senate. He currently lectures on cruise ships throughout the world.

2 replies on “The Privilege of Teaching Torah”

Hi Ken. I was looking up information on the Torah and found this. I wanted to see what the Torah states regarding this election. I see you are still very prolific and profound. Dr. Weinberg has retired but he still pops in once in a while. Wishing you and yours the best.

Shalom Rabbi Ken! Ira Smith here from Gates of Prayer in Metairie. I remember you introducing Bree to us; so adorable. In 1978, you performed our marriage (Emily & I); Emily participated in GOP Singers for a few years. I also directed you & some Congregation seniors in a musical for Sisterhood. Just catching up with you after all these years… After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, we evacuated & returned to my hometown of Tulsa. My original mentor Rabbi was at Hillel in Pittsburgh, when I was a physics major at Carnegie-Mellon, with whom I later visited for his book reading in New Orleans, where I was on the Hillel Board of Directors for 25 years at Tulane.

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