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About Our Guest Speaker & Service Leader

Rabbi Neal Katz is the eighth full-time rabbi at Congregation Beth El of Tyler, Texas since it began in 1887. In 2003, he received his rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College (HUC-JIR) in Cincinnati, OH. His rabbinic thesis was an exploration of Predicate Theology and the writings of Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis. Rabbi David Komerofsky was Dean of Students during Katz's student days in Cincinnati.

Rabbi Katz grew up in Virginia Beach, VA, and was active in his home congregation of Ohef Sholom in Norfolk, VA. Neal grew up in NFTY, the UAHC Camps Eisner and Kutz, and was regional vice-president for NFTY-MAR (then MAFTY) for two years.

Neal spent his junior year of college in Israel studying at Hebrew Union College and living on Kibbutz Tzora. After receiving his undergraduate degree in political science from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, Neal married Jennifer Brown. He then became the full-time Director of Youth and Social Action Activities at Temple Sinai in Washington, D.C. During that same time, Neal spent two additional years at George Mason University doing graduate work in counseling.

During the seven years Rabbi Katz was in the Northern Virginia area, he was fortunate to work with many congregations and communities in the capacity of song-leader, teacher, youth group advisor, and service leader. Most notable was Congregation Ner Shalom in Woodbridge, VA where Neal was mentored by Rabbi Jonathan Katz.

Neal and Jennifer moved to Israel in 1998 to begin his seminary training. While at HUC, Neal pursued his love for Jewish music as an active song-leader for various camps, youth groups, and congregations in and around the Midwest. Neal worked at Camp Ben Frankel in Carbondale, IL for three summers serving as camp rabbi and song-leader. Neal also had the opportunity to song-lead for a Progressive Jewish summer camp outside of Minsk, Belarus in the summer of 1999.

Rabbi Katz has released three CDs of his original Jewish music. His songs have become popular in congregations, camps, and Religious Schools around the country. In 2009, Neal also released a folk-music CD, and in 2010, he was a finalist in the Kerrville Musical Festival's New Folk Contest. The website for his music can be found at KatzMusic.com. 

In addition to his musical travels in the States, when Neal travels abroad, he likes to share his music with member congregations in the World Union for Progressive Judaism. Neal has been honored to share his music and help lead Shabbat worship services at Progressive Jewish congregations in Warsaw, Paris, Prague, Budapest, London, St. Petersburg, and Copenhagen.

Neal and Jennifer have a son, Micah, and two daughters, Lila and Rebecca. 

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