Rabbi Jason Nevarez
Rabbi Jason Nevarez of Congregation Beth Israel.

Members of Congregation Beth Israel, San Diego’s largest and oldest Jewish congregation, have elected Rabbi Jason Nevarez as senior rabbi following a nationwide search.

The election was held earlier this year, and Nevarez arrived in San Diego this month to begin his post. He succeeds Rabbi Michael Berk, who retired in July 2019 as rabbi emeritus of the Reform congregation in University City.

“In Rabbi Nevarez, we found not only a great rabbi but a great match for our congregation,” said Kimberly Carnot, president of the congregation. “Rabbi Nevarez is a talented mentor, a team unifier and one who patiently listens and hears others.”

Originally from New York City, Nevarez, graduated from the University of Michigan, where he received his BA in 1998, and was ordained by the Hebrew Union College in New York in 2006.

He held residencies and internships at Larchmont Temple in New York, Temple Beth Emeth in Ann Arbor, MI, and Temple Shaaray Tefila in Bedford, NY, where he served for the past 17 years. Prior to entering rabbinical school, he served as a youth director at synagogues in Connecticut and Michigan.

Nevarez, 43, speaks fluent Spanish and has conducted outreach, education, and social justice work in Latin America. He said he felt a sense of destiny upon meeting the Beth Israel community.

“I felt an energetic connection as I engaged with tremendously devoted staff and passionate lay leaders. I had rich encounters with the extraordinary clergy and left eager to be in thought-partnership with them. I have felt an overwhelming sense of destiny, that Beth Israel was my match,” Nevarez said.

Congregation Beth Israel’s history dates to to 1861 when San Diego was a frontier settlement. The synagogue has a current membership of about 1,100 families.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.