Who we are
Rabbi David Curiel
Not so long ago, I was a statistic that worried institutional Jews: a Spiritual None, turned off by mainstream American Jewish practice as I had received it. Yet I always felt a spiritual longing for connection. I worked at Apple Computer, earned an MBA at Indiana University, and moved to the West Coast to work in the wine industry. Along the way, I found many folks with a shared zeitgeist: a desire for living in community and supporting each other physically and emotionally.
Through an unexpected turn of events (ask me about that sometime!), I found Jewish Renewal, a daring approach to Judaism as a spiritual practice, and realized not only that this Jewish thing was for me, but also that I needed to become a rabbi.
With my wife, Amberly, we made our home in Boston, where I began my rabbinic studies with Aleph, the Alliance for Jewish Renewal, while also working at Nehar Shalom Synagogue in Jamaica Plain and at Kesher Hebrew School in Cambridge/Somerville. We spent the 2014-15 school year in Jerusalem while I studied at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, and then moved to New York City for the next two years while I served as rabbinic intern at Romemu, arguably one of the most vibrant synagogues in the country right now.
In 2017, I earned ordination as a Mashpi’a Ruchani/Spiritual Director, a practice of spiritual companionship to help people investigate their relationship with Divinity/ Source/the Eternal. I received rabbinic smicha/ordination from Aleph in January 2018.
I began co-creating the vision for Asiyah along with David while we were living in Jerusalem a few years ago. My motivation was a yearning to be in community with people who, like me, want to explore Jewish practice—prayer, study, contemplation, fellowship—in creative, innovative, and spirited ways.
I didn’t come to my Judaism through my parents—I found it as an adult, in tandem with David’s rediscovery of Judaism. Jewish Renewal was our shared access point; in it, I found the kind of spiritual home I had been longing for, where I could bring a love of song and spiritual expression, which sprung from the Christian tradition I grew up in, along with a spirit of deep inquiry, exploration, and open-mindedness.
I’m a graduate of Kol Zimra, Rabbi Shefa Gold’s two-year Hebrew chant leadership training program, and I love bringing this powerful practice to Asiyah’s monthly Rosh Chodesh circle. I’m also a professional copy editor and writer, so I’ve naturally slipped into the role of managing the Asiyah website and other communications.
I’m a Shanah Aleph rabbinical student at Hebrew College, where I am in the first cohort of the Nachshon Project Graduate Fellowship. I grew up in Northern California, where I cultivated a love and curiosity of Judaism, specifically Jewish music, at URJ Camp Newman as well as Congregation Rodef Sholom in San Rafael, CA, and at Hillel at UCLA.
My hope for Asiyah is best described by Kalonymus Kalman Shapira of Piazetsne, a great Hassidic rebbe: “One who speaks of the praises and glory of Hashem is like one who recounts that there is a great light [like the sun] that shines in a certain place far away. But one who sings a song of praise and glory for Hashem is like one who brings a candle close from far away ...” I hope through melody to draw forth the divine light in each person as we journey together as a community, one radiantly luminous candle."
Asiyah Cultivation Crew
The ACC meets monthly to help shape and guide Asiyah's mission, vision, and programming. Members represent facets of the larger Asiyah community: 20s and 30s singles, young couples, parents (both of young kids and teens), and plus-50s. In addition to Rabbi David and Amberly, the following brilliant and dedicated people form the ACC: