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Michael Fel
Senior Rabbi

[headshot] Rabbi Fel

Originally from Miami, Florida, Rabbi Fel earned a bachelor's degree in Business from the University of Miami. He then pursued his ordination at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he honed his skills as a Schusterman Rabbinic Fellow and earned a Master's Degree in Midrash and Scriptural Interpretation from the Graduate School. Rabbi Fel dedicated the initial eight years of his rabbinate to Temple Emunah in Lexington, Massachusetts.
Rabbi Fel loves connecting and partnering with people to create a vibrant and inclusive Jewish community.  Since arriving at Temple Emanu-El in 2019, Rabbi Fel partnered with staff and lay leaders to create a variety of new initiatives including:  

  • Establishing affinity groups like Boomers and Beyond, the Brotherhood, TEQ (LGBTQ+A), and ATEED (20s and 30s).
  • Curating small group learning experiences centered around Jewish values.
  • Forging a partnership with Sinai and Synapses to secure a national grant aimed at exploring the intriguing interplay between science and religion.
  • Introducing "On the Rhode": an enticing series of summer gatherings and social meetups all around Rhode Island

Rabbi Fel especially loves teaching his Wednesday morning Shulhan Arukh class, meeting with congregants one on one,  and of course, creating meaningful and inspiring worship services.  

Having walked the diverse paths of various Jewish denominations, Rabbi Fel comprehends that everyone forges their unique connection to Judaism. He hopes that Temple Emanu-El becomes a comfortable home for you.

When not at work, Rabbi Fel enjoys cooking, woodworking, playing percussion instruments, exploring the outdoors, and speaking Spanish (his family is from Argentina). Rabbi Fel and his wife Shayna, a native Rhode Islander and former New England Region USY President, are raising their incredible children: Nadav, Eliana and Lior. 

Ask Me About:
>>Adult Education
>>Life-cycle events
>>"Spiritual check-ins"

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Cantor Dr. Brian J. Mayer
Senior Cantor

[headshot] Cantor Mayer

Cantor Dr. Brian Mayer, Cantor of Temple Emanu-El since 1989, was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1988 and earned his Doctor of Sacred Music degree from JTS in 1998. He has established a Temple music department that includes three choirs, The Shabbat Chai Band and a klezmer band. With these ensembles, he produced the Temple’s first CD recording, Kolot Emanu-El. In 2002, he was featured in an ABC-TV documentary, “To God’s Ear,” which was nominated for an Emmy Award. In 2009, he was the Artistic Director of the award winning Shining Through Broken Glass: A Kristallnacht Concert, which featured Leonard Nimoy. He is a 31 year veteran conductor for HaZamir, The International Jewish Teen Choir. He has conducted HaZamir at Carnegie Hall, The Metropolitan Opera House, David Geffen Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center. In 1992, he founded the Temple Emanu-El Torah Tutor Program which engages over 20 post Bar/Bat Mitzvah teens as mentors and tutors. He is a recognized scholar of Hazzanut (cantorial music), and is an adjunct Associate Professor of Jewish Music at Hebrew College. Prior to his appointment at Hebrew College, he taught for 14 years at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York as Assistant Professor of Hazzanut.

Cantor Mayer is married to Cantor Lynn Torgove, and is the proud father of four red-headed musicians, David, Raphael, Daniel and Jonah.

Ask Me About:
>>Learning how to chant Torah
>>Arts Emanu-El Programs
>>B'nei Mitzvah Program

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Rabbi Wayne M. Franklin
Senior Rabbi Emeritus

[headshot] Rabbi FranklinRabbi Wayne Franklin, Senior Rabbi at Temple Emanu-El from 1981-2019, is a native of Wharton, Texas. He is a 1965 graduate of Yeshiva University and was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1970. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity by the Seminary in 1996. In addition to his pastoral duties, leading services and teaching aspects of Judaism to people of all ages, he has served as chair of the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of RI and has chaired the Rhode Island Interfaith Commemoration of the Holocaust for thirty-four years. He is a member of the Miriam Hospital's Ethics Committee and its Jewish Traditions Advisory Committee. He chaired the Mayor's Task Force Youth Engagement and has been a leader in various interfaith endeavors, including the Rhode Island Rabbis and Priests Dialogue and The Abrahamic Accord. He currently co-chairs the RI Catholic-Jewish Dialogue Group. He was a member of the Providence Faith, Community, and Law Enforcement Leaders Dialogue Group, which worked to build understanding and trust among members of the law enforcement community, the faith community and the community at large. He serves as the Secretary/Treasurer of the National Council of Synagogues, a multi-denominational Jewish group which engages in interfaith dialogue with the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Council of Churches. In addition to his leadership at Temple Emanu-El, he maintains contact with a group of African Jews in Abuja, Nigeria. He was the first recipient of the Jewish Federation’s Tilles Award. In 2003, he received the Jewish Federation's Never Again Award, and in 2004, he received the NCCJ Interfaith Leadership Award. In 2017, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by Providence College. In 2018, he received the Joseph W. Ress Community Service Award, presented by the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, and has been named the recipient of the Honorary Chairs’ Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities.

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Rabbi Alvan H. Kaunfer
Rabbi Emeritus

[headshot] Rabbi KaunferRabbi Alvan H. Kaunfer is a Rabbi Emeritus at Temple Emanu-El, after serving the Temple and Jewish Community for 33 years. Rabbi Kaunfer continues his special interest in education by teaching a weekly Parashah class, Hebrew group, and continuing his research in midrash. In addition, Rabbi Kaunfer serves as an educational consultant to a number of schools. Rabbi Kaunfer was also the founding Director of the Alperin Schechter Day School in Providence. He is a graduate of Brandeis University , Teachers’ College of Columbia University, and he was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary, from which institution he also holds a Doctoral degree in Education. Rabbi Kaunfer has published articles on education and on midrash in several professional journals and books.  Rabbi Kaunfer is married to Marcia Lapidus Kaunfer and he has two sons, Elie and Oren and six grandchildren. 

Thu, May 23 2024 15 Iyyar 5784