As we count down to Rosh Hashanah, we’d like to introduce you to five new rabbis in the Washington area who are gearing up for their first high holidays here.
Synagogue involvement runs in Jesse R. Nagelberg’s family. His mother was heavily involved in the family’s synagogue board, which Nagelberg, the new rabbi at B’nai Shalom of Olney, attributes to his being “very comfy” in a religious setting. While still young himself, it occurred to him that the programming for small children was babysitting. With the support of his parents, he created a service for kids up to 6 years old that included basic prayers, play time and a skit about the Torah portion.
Nagelberg wasn’t just involved in the synagogue at a young age, however. “I was a kid that always loved to cook.” Beginning around age 10, he would give a recipe to his mom who would buy him the ingredients and he started cooking from there.
When summer rolled around, he had nothing to do, but wanted to find a way to give back to his parents. So when his parents came home from a long day at work, Jesse had something comforting and kosher ready to eat. From there, he started Chez Nagel Kosher Comfort Catering, his own catering service.
“I have no doubt you’ll see me in the kitchen soon,” he said about his plans for B’nai Shalom of Olney. Nagelberg is dreaming up ideas like hosting congregants in his home for dinner, and doing a “cooking with the rabbi” series.
“I think one of the things that is really core to who I am is that everything comes back to relationships and customer service,” he said. In addition to his ordination in May from the Jewish Theological Seminary, Nagelberg also received a master’s degree in hospitality from the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education.
The degrees were purposeful, Nagelberg said. He felt that they would help him the most out of all the other studies. “My motto is that the little things are actually the big things,” he said. “Greetings at the door, the little touches, or getting to know people beneath the surface…everything I teach as a rabbi is how to create interpersonal relationships.”