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In honor of Rabbi Dev

by Kehilla’s Clergy Team

Kehilla will officially welcome Rabbi Dev Noily as our Senior Rabbi on November 10–11, 2017 with a joyous Brit Kehilla – a Community Covenant.  The whole Kehilla community will celebrate Rabbi Dev with music, blessings, learning, eating and dancing.

Our Kehilla Clergy Team is offering these words of welcome in preparation for the day.

Welcoming Rabbi Dev Noily

by Rabbi Burt Jacobson

Soon after Rabbi Dev became Kehilla’s school director Dev invited me to go to lunch, so we could begin to fashion a collegial relationship. We went to Little Shin Shin on Piedmont Avenue. It was truly a memorable occasion. Our conversation covered a wide range of topics. I could see that in Dev’s understanding there was no separation between spirituality and politics, between love for Judaism and Jews and love for humanity. And I was deeply impressed by Dev’s openness, presence, intelligence, levelheadedness, and joyous disposition. Dev radiated a quiet strength, inner stability and peace of mind.

I recall offering Dev some of my ideas for the school—and Dev’s humble and openhearted reply: “This is a time of learning for me. Before initiating any changes, I need to learn more about the school and the synagogue.” Dev asked to meet with me regularly to tap my experience and knowledge. I felt a deep sense of confidence in their ability to guide and direct the school.

A few days later I was speaking with Rabbi David and I told him about my meeting with Dev: “David, if you ever decide to pull back from your role as community rabbi, or to retire, I think Kehilla might have its next rabbi.” And David replied, “I already know this.”

The quality that I most admire in Dev is their belief that every individual deserves to be equally loved, accepted and appreciated. It is out of this conviction that Dev’s commitment to social justice arises.

I cannot adequately express my own joy and delight in welcoming Rabbi Dev as our new senior rabbi.

Indispensable Rabbi Dev

by Rabbi David J. Cooper

While I was recovering from my cancer surgery 12 years ago, I found myself thinking about the inevitable need to replace me at some point in the future. I decided that during the next years I wanted to play a role in laying the groundwork for my eventual replacement.

We had criteria for selecting a rabbi back in the late ‘90s which eventually culminated in my being hired. These general criteria were still relevant. We were looking for someone who could “get” Kehilla and understand our unique combination of an open-spirituality with politically-progressive social action. And we were looking for someone who would work collegially and could understand how we embrace a shared leadership. And now, like most everyone else in the congregation, I wanted someone who would love the people in this community. And it should be someone who could appeal to a younger crowd.


When the position of the school principal became vacant, several candidates were interviewed and one of these was Dev Noily. Like the other folks who interviewed Dev, I was very impressed and hoped that they would be offered the position and would accept.

Dev made it clear that their family were members of a different synagogue where they felt at home, but that Dev intended to serve Kehilla School understanding its importance to the shul community. During that first year I was really surprised what a great principal they were even without considering that they had not prepared previously to serve as an educator for young people. Dev deepened the sense of community among the students and was a creative and loving rabbinical presence. After a while, Dev informed us that their family was now feeling more connected to Kehilla and so Dev was invited to participate in the spiritual leadership of the congregation, which they did.

I think it was about a year after that, that during a one-on-one talk with Dev, I said that I did not have the power to appoint a successor but that if I did, I would want it to be them. Among Dev’s responses was that the idea of being a congregational rabbi was scary. I was very happy to hear them say that. It meant that Dev understood what a responsibility this was. So I said words to the effect, “Make yourself indispensable and I won’t get in your way.”

Well Dev did. The community has seen how great its next rabbi could be. And so it is.

Moving Forward Together

by Hazzan Shulamit

Welcoming Rabbi Dev as our senior rabbi marks a generational shift in the life of our community from having rabbinic leadership from Kehilla’s founding generation at the helm, to a new generation of clergy leadership. I experience Rabbi Dev’s commitment to the dual task of carrying on the extraordinary legacy that’s been passed forward while supporting our community have wings. They approach this ongoing task with love, care, curiosity, and integrity.

To my delight, Rabbi Dev carries on a great tradition of Kehilla rabbis who share their love of music with the community. Most recently, they organized the newest incarnation of our community klezmer band that rocked the sanctuary on Simchat Torah. They’ll be back to get us dancing on Nov 11!

Rabbi Dev has added to our rich adult education program and inspired a new buzz around Torah and Talmud learning, reaching old Jews, new Jews, young Jews, and non-Jews alike.  Their vision for relevant and realized Jewish spiritual practice extends to the pursuit of justice and the healing of our world, as well as to the healing of our souls, and how we grow as a community together.

I cherish the big heart, the brave mind, and the beautiful spirit that is Rabbi Dev. Sitting in the Mystery with Rabbi Dev is one of my favorite things. It’s an honor and a joy to partner with them on the “clergy team,” and to serve together with our broader team of dedicated spiritual leaders and musical prayers leaders.

Whatever unfolds, we’re in it together!

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