Rabbi Lee Bycel of Berkeley is the new rabbi of Napa County’s only Synagogue, Congregation Beth Shalom.
Rabbi Bycel brings many years of experience, including 15 years as the Dean of the Hebrew Union College — Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, where he was the senior academic and administrative officer of the campus and director of the rabbinic school.
He was assistant professor of leadership and applied theology. He has also served as the Smither Visiting Professor of World Religions at the Claremont School of Theology.
Rabbi Bycel was scholar in residence at many congregations for the past three decades, speaking on issues such as modern Jewish identity, leadership and ethics and contemporary Jewish issues and challenges. Throughout his rabbinic career, he has was a congregational rabbi, director of the Redford Center and President of the Brandeis-Bardin Institute.
Rabbi Bycel has been a leader in humanitarian and social justice issues as well as in educational, cultural and interfaith and leadership programs.
He has made several trips to Eastern Chad and Darfur in his work on behalf of the Darfuri refugees. Last fall, he was in Haiti to see the rebuilding efforts taking place. He has been a senior moderator of leadership seminars at the Aspen Institute for more than 15 years.
Since his first trip to Israel in 1968, he has visited many times. He was president of the County of Los Angeles Commission on Human Relations. He has a number of publications to his credit, as well as being the recipient of many awards including the National Conference of Community and Justice (NCCJ) Humanitarian Award.