Kane Street Synagogue names new senior rabbi
Rabbi Michelle Dardashti Integrates Multicultural Approach to Judaism
Kane Street Synagogue has named Rabbi Michelle Dardashti as its next senior spiritual leader of the historic congregation, founded in 1856.
Rabbi Dardashti comes to Kane Street effective August 1, after nine years as Rabbi of the Hillel serving Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design and as Associate Chaplain for the Jewish Community at Brown University.
She received a Campus Life Staff Excellence Award from Brown University in 2020. During her tenure, Brown RISD Hillel was recognized by Hillel International with both the “Best Place to Work” and “Outstanding Campus” awards.
Rabbi Dardashti has earned accolades for using her deep Jewish knowledge, soulful approach to prayer, and engagement with contemporary social challenges to convey the beauty and relevance of Judaism to people from widely diverse Jewish backgrounds. She brings to Kane Street a grounding in both the traditional and the progressive outlook of Conservative Judaism, and an appreciation of and experience with the full range of denominational and non-denominational Jewish expression.
Rabbi Dardashti was ordained at, and received an MA in Jewish Education from, the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she was a Neubauer Fellow. During her time at JTS, she was trained in Congregation Based Community Organizing through JOIN for Justice and in Clinical Pastoral Education at Bellevue Hospital; she was
an educator for Interfaith Community and Director of Youth and Family Education at Congregation Shaare Zedek.
The daughter of an American folk singer and teacher, and an Iranian-born cantor, Rabbi Dardashti was raised on a brand of Judaism that is multicultural, meta-denominational, musical and global. She became a rabbi to share the gifts her parents’ eclectic Judaism afforded her: passion, hope, wonder, gratitude, empathy, responsibility and joy.
Her writings have appeared in Sh’ma Journal, Jewschool and Siddur Lev Shalem (2016), and in three recent books, One Nation, Indivisible: Seeking Liberty and Justice from the Pulpit to the Streets (2019), Chaver Up: Allyship Through A Modern Jewish Lens (2021) and Jewish Theological Grace: Drashot In Honor of Chancellor Arnold M. Eisen (2022, forthcoming). She is currently a Pedagogies of Wellbeing Research Fellow through M²: The Institute for Experiential Jewish Education.
Upon arriving in August, Rabbi Dardashti will be joining a landmark synagogue with a dynamic faith community. While the interview process can be daunting, she found hers to be vibrant:
“The magical three days I spent with the Kane Street community last month left me brimming with excitement for all that could be. From the sweet way Search Committee members ushered me from gathering to gathering, to the brilliant questions of the seventh graders, the voices that joined me in learning and prayer, and the countless brief, yet intimate, exchanges I had with individuals, it was evident that I’d found my next rabbinic dream role. I’m ﬁlled with gratitude and emotion in accepting the honor of leading a congregation with such a storied and special history. I cannot wait to see the future we build together.”
Likewise, Leslie Wilsher, president of the congregation, summed up the response to Rabbi Dardashti’s initial visit in early February:
“Rabbi Dardashti impressed us immensely with her warmth, her empathy, and the way she made Judaism come alive, whether through teaching, prayer, or just her own obvious love of the tradition. We felt she was the perfect person to preserve what we love about Kane Street and to imagine what we can be in the future.”
Rabbi Dardashti succeeds Rabbi Samuel Weintraub, who served Kane St. for 25 years before his retirement in 2021. She is the second woman senior rabbi to serve the Cobble Hill congregation.
Rabbi Dardashti is married to Nathan Sher, who hails from Sydney, Australia. Together they have three children: Eden (12), Miya (9), and Lavi (6).
Historically known as The Mother Synagogue of Brooklyn, Kane Street Synagogue is the oldest Jewish Congregation that still serves the Brooklyn neighborhood in which it was founded.
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