Rabbi Nathan Alfred
Hello! I'm Rabbi Nathan.
I grew up in London and studied Classics at King’s College, Cambridge. After graduating I moved to Budapest to play chess, a life-long passion, and gained the title of Fide Master. But then I made a different move: I trained for the rabbinate in London and Jerusalem. Upon ordination I worked as a community rabbi for twelve years, six in Europe, simultaneously in Brussels and in Luxembourg, and six in Asia, based in Singapore. In 2020 I made Aliyah and can now be found, with my wife and son, at home in Jerusalem.
I am a long-time member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, as well as a founding member and former Vice-President of Kerem (the Conference of Francophone Rabbis). I have also served as Vice-Chair of the Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors (ARC) of Australia, New Zealand and Asia, and am delighted to have recently joined MARAM (Israeli Rabbinate).
Being Jewish is a joyful expression of my identity. I enjoy bringing people together to build communities that support each other through good times and bad. We have much to learn from one another!
FREE SYNAGOGUE OF FLUSHING, QUEENS, NEW YORK
I am delighted soon to be starting work as rabbi and spiritual leader for this Reform synagogue in Flushing, Queens, a diverse neighbourhood in New York City.
THE IMAM AND THE RABBI
This project is still very much a work-in-progress. With my close friend and teacher, Imam Dr Mamadou Bocoum, the idea is to create a travelogue series around Europe in dialogue as Muslim and Jewish religious leaders. We made the trailer in July 2019 and were negotiating a deal with a commercial media company before the pandemic struck and everything was put on hold!
DESTINATION WEDDINGS AND BAR/BAT MITZVAHS IN ISRAEL AND AROUND THE WORLD
I have partnered with my chess friend of twenty years, Peter Gokhvat, who is a qualified Israeli tour operator and guide. He would be happy to support people wanting to visit Israel and celebrate their simchas. Peter handles all the logistical arrangements, and me the rituals!
LIBERAL LITVAK COMMUNITY, VILNIUS
I have been visiting Vilnius throughout the first part of 2022 as a volunteer, helping to build the first Liberal Litvak Community in Vilnius, Lithuania. We conducted bar and bat mitzvahs, regular Shabbat services, the first adult women reading Torah, and are building the formations for a liberal Jewish life.
START UP JUDAISM
I have set up a non-profit organisation to focus on helping new and emerging Jewish communities around the world.
WORLD UNION FOR PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM
Based in Jerusalem, I worked for the umbrella body, aiming to support around 1200 congregations in more than 50 countries around the world.
BAALEI TEFILLAH EUROPE 2021
I created, led and taught this innovative prayer training course for 29 lay leaders from across the European progressive communities. It was an opportunity to train new leadership especially for our communities that cannot afford to employ full-time rabbis.
INSTITUTE OF MODERN JEWISH STUDIES, MOSCOW
I assumed the role of Acting Principal for the Institute of Modern Jewish Studies in Moscow, Russia. There were fourteen students working towards their BA degree at the Russian State University of the Humanities, whilst taking additional courses at the Moscow Centre for Progressive Judaism. Some go on to Berlin to train as rabbis and cantors at the University of Potsdam and the Abraham Geiger Kolleg. They will become the next generation of progressive Jewish leadership in our Russian-speaking communities.
UNITED HEBREW CONGREGATION, SINGAPORE
I worked as the first resident rabbi of what has become the largest Jewish community in South-East Asia. Achievements include creating a Sunday school, increased worship (on Shabbat and a weekly minyan on Thursday mornings), and popular adult education programmes. We also focussed on interfaith activities, Tikkun Olam, and improved regional cooperation.
ASIAN BEIT DIN
With the cooperation of my colleagues in Hong Kong and Tokyo, I founded a regional progressive rabbinical court for conversion candidates, under the auspices of the Union for Progressive Judaism. We met at least once per year and welcomed new Jews from our communities and across South-East Asia.
ASIA PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM
I also played my part in developing regional cooperation amongst the different progressive communities in South-East Asia. Initiatives included teen trips to Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai and Singapore, and young adults weekends in Bali, Yangon and Vientiane. I also helped to create new communities in Bali and Phnom Penh, and worked with smaller groups in Vietnam and Malaysia.
COMMUNAUTÉ ISRAELITE D’ESCH-SUR-ALZETTE, LUXEMBOURG
I helped to transform a moribund traditional community into a more liberal and lively congregation. Changes included counting women in the minyan and the first ever bat-mitzvahs in Luxembourg, where girls read from the Torah. Membership quadrupled and we became a synagogue for both locals and expats, anglophones and francophones, sephardim and ashkenazim, liberals and conservatives.
INTERNATIONAL JEWISH CENTER, BELGIUM
For seven years I was rabbi of this warm and dynamic anglophone community in the heart of Europe. We grew together in size and in Jewish experience. Highlights included the teen group, with trips to Israel, Hungary and Poland, as well as well-attended Shabbat services and their first conversion programme.