Rabbi Natan Trief

Beth Shalom Synagogue welcomed Rabbi Natan Trief on Aug. 1, 2016. 

Rabbi Natan Trief smiles from a podiumNatan grew up in suburban New Jersey not far from New York City. He graduated from Dartmouth College with a double major in Spanish and History. Before the rabbinate was even a glint in his eye, Natan spent the 10 years between Dartmouth and rabbinical school exploring the world and his place in it. Whether the corporate boardrooms of PepsiCo, the hills, valleys and seas of Israel, or the Mongolian desert, the years were never dull.

Natan has spent years traveling and sailing around the globe proudly earning the name “wandering Jew.” That said, Israel continues to be the place closest to his heart. In 2006, he moved to Israel and lived on a kibbutz, learning Hebrew, prior to enlisting in the Israel Defense Forces as a combat soldier specializing in search and rescue. A brief course in Judaism toward the end of his service proved the linchpin that fused together his disparate experiences and passions into one calling. Months later, baking challah and teaching the Shabbat blessings to his crew-mates on a sailboat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean confirmed his sneaking suspicions: the rabbinate was the right place for him.

His five years at seminary, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, saw him criss-crossing between Israel and New York, working as a student rabbi in Lock Haven, PA, New York City and Syracuse University. In addition, he completed a comprehensive interfaith pastoral care program in Portland, Maine, working as a hospital and prison chaplain. Natan has developed a deep passion for Israel and the modern Hebrew language (he wrote his rabbinic thesis on the Israeli Declaration of Independence), as well as classical Hebrew text (his favorite biblical book is the Book of Judges). In May 2015, he received a Masters of Hebrew Literature and, one year later, his rabbinic ordination.

Natan is married to a fellow rabbi, Samantha Shabman. They met their first year of rabbinical school on the Jerusalem campus. They can be found singing Jewish songs into the wee hours of the night over a glass of Israeli wine.

Email Rabbi Trief at rabbi@bethshalomsynagogue.org.