Rabbi Paul Kipnes, MAJE, a popular lecturer on raising spiritually balanced, emotionally whole children, is leader of Congregation Or Ami in Calabasas, California. A former camp director and North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) regional advisor, Rabbi Kipnes and his wife Michelle November MSSW co-wrote Jewish Spiritual Parenting: Wisdom, Activities, Rituals, and Prayers for Raising Children with Spiritual Balance and Emotional Wholeness (Jewish Lights Publishing).
I view Judaism through the prism of healing. Each of us carries around within himself or herself the burden of unfinished business or unresolved pain. Jewish tradition, through healing prayers, religious acts and teshuva (a path of change), invites us to bring age-old wisdom to recent problems. The results can be astounding as we transform our values and change our lives.
I am a product of NFTY, Reform Judaism’s youth movement, and its camps (especially the URJ Kutz Camp and Camp Newman). Those formative experiences taught me how important it is for our youth to develop close relationships with their rabbis. I am especially proud of Or Ami’s Tracks for Temple Teens (Triple T), which offers multiple paths for Jewish teen experiences. I look forward to regular free-flowing school sessions of “Rap with the Rabbi,” in which the students of all ages and I discuss their deep personal questions.
Rabbi Kipnes serves as Vice President (and former Convention Chairperson) for the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and past chair of the West Valley Rabbinic Task Force. He sits as a member of the clinical faculty at the Rhea Hirsch School of Jewish Education, serves as rabbinic mentor to dozens of young rabbis, and volunteers on the CCAR Task Force on Addictions in the Jewish Community.
Rabbi Kipnes and his wife Michelle November co-wrote Jewish Spiritual Parenting: Wisdom, Activities, Rituals, and Prayers for Raising Children with Spiritual Balance and Emotional Wholeness (Jewish Lights Publishing). He also co-edited a national CCAR Journal issue on New Visions for Jewish Community.
Under his leadership, Congregation Or Ami (Calabasas, CA) has won national awards for social justice programming, for innovative worship programming, for outreach to interfaith families, and for engaging family education, and for best overall use of technology in a synagogue. Or Ami also wins the hearts of its families for its Henaynu caring community, which reaches out during times of need.
Prior to serving Congregation Or Ami, Paul was rabbi and director of education at Temple Beth Hillel in North Hollywood, California. Previously, he directed Camp Hess Kramer and Gindling Hilltop Camp in Malibu, California. Born and raised in Massachusetts, Rabbi Kipnes is a graduate of Trinity College and of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. In his free time, he does yoga, blogs avidly, reads science fiction, listens to jazz and blues, visits national and state parks, and takes walks in the California wilds. He is devoted to his wife Michelle November, and their three children.