Rabbi Joel Levenson has a powerful ability to build and grow a community. With his warm and caring manner, he knows how to engage each member and create meaningful experiences that draw them in to synagogue life. He serves a wide spectrum of populations handling pastoral needs as well as dynamic programs for diverse populations including young families, teens, preschool, and empty nesters.
Known for his inspiring pulpit presence and ability to bring vibrancy to large congregations, Rabbi Levenson easily builds strong relationships with members, lay leaders, boards, and the external community. In fact, due to his strong bonds in the local political community, he was asked to deliver the Opening Prayer for the United States House of Representatives, the 112th Congress, Second Session. He is an alumnus of the Jewish Leaders Program, an initiative of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He serves on the Board of Directors for Mercaz USA, the Zionist organization of the Conservative Movement. Rabbi Levenson also serves on the United Jewish Communities and State of Israel Bonds National Rabbinic Cabinets.
Previously, Rabbi Levenson has been the spiritual leader of Congregation B'nai Jacob in Woodbridge, CT. He also served under Rabbi Lewis in Cherry Hill, NJ, the subject of Mitch Albom's book, “Have a Little Faith.” In this very large congregation, Temple Beth Shalom, he worked in all areas of synagogue life including leadership development, community outreach, fundraising, missions to Israel, bereavement, and teaching. In addition, he has worked for over 15 years at Camp Ramah, a sleepover camp, serving in many capacities that reflect his love of fun-based education and inspiration.
Rabbi Levenson hails from Akron, OH where his family was very active in the local Jewish community and in their Conservative synagogue. In 1991, he served as International President of United Synagogue (USY). He graduated from Miami University in Oxford, OH with degrees in Psychology and Political science, and enjoyed his time on the ultimate Frisbee team as well. During his junior year, he studied abroad at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Rabbi Levenson was ordained as a Conservative Rabbi at the Jewish Theological Seminary in May 2001. At that time he also received a Masters Degree in Jewish Education from the William Davidson School of Education. He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry in Clinical Pastoral Education at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
Rabbi Levenson and his wife, Leora Cohen, have been blessed with three beautiful children: Shir, Sam, and Gideon. Leora is originally from Livingston, NJ and is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania & Gratz College Joint Program in Social Work and Jewish Communal Services.
“Outside of the office”, Rabbi Levenson enjoys playing with and reading to his children, connecting with friends and family, biking, swimming, and watching sports. He enjoys completing triathlons. Traveling to Israel as a youth group leader, guide for synagogue congregants and as a tourist are always a special joy and privilege.