Beth El Hebrew Congregation in Alexandria will be welcoming a new rabbi in July, as congregants voted Sunday to turn the bima over to Rabbi David Spinrad.
He’ll replace Rabbi Brett Isserow, who will retire after 16 years at the Reform synagogue.
Spinrad comes from The Temple in Atlanta, where he’s served as assistant rabbi since 2013. There he led the congregation’s adult trips to Israel as well as their young professionals community.
But he also had a career before the rabbinate. The California native ran a personal training business in San Francisco. He studied at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati.
“He was the unanimous choice of the board, who just thought he was really smart and engaging and just the right direction for the congregation,” said Julienne Bramesco, Beth El’s president.
Isserow told the congregation he’d be retiring about a year ago, Bramesco said. With the help of the Union for Reform Judaism, the synagogue formulated a transition plan. A search committee interviewed 30 candidates and brought four to Alexandria to meet in person. She said the board of directors was impressed by a study session Spinrad led with them.
“He was just off the charts and it was really a meaningful and wonderful discussion and it really showed off his scholarship,” Bramesco said. “His humanity and his scholarship really just struck everyone as being a decent person, a family man and someone people felt very comfortable approaching.”
Coincidentally, Isserow had also served as an assistant rabbi at The Temple. He and Spinrad have been in communication about the transition, according to Bramesco.
Isserow is likely to hold the rabbi emeritus position, she said.
“He has been the congregation for so long,” Bramesco said. “He is our face and our voice in so many ways. For a large number of our congregants they’ll have only known Rabbi Isserow as their rabbi, so this is going to be hard for some people. But we’re committed to making sure that Rabbi Spinrad has a smooth transition.”